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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



THE 



"IDSTONE" PAPERS, 

A SERIES OF ARTICLES AND 

DESULTORY OBSERVATIONS ON SPORT AND 

THINGS IN GENERAL. 



By "IDSTONE," 

OF "THE FIELD." 



' I 



LONDON : 

HORACE COX, 34 6, STRAND, W.C. 
1872. 



LONTX)N: 
PRIVTKD BT HORACE COX, 34fi, STEASD, W.C. 



PREFACE. 



" THE Idstone Papers " were originally written for the Field 
Newspaper. 

I have consented to republish them for the following 
reasons : 

First, the favourable and kind opinion expressed by the late 
Mr. Charles Dickens of the first paper (" The Agricultural 
Labourer "), which was submitted to him by a mutual and 
eminent friend ; and/ secondly, the repeated requests made by 
friends and strangers that I would give them to the public in a 
collected form. 

I issue them fully conscious of their many imperfections, but 
with the hope that they may be somewhat interesting to those 
who can appreciate the simple and unpretending recital of a 
sportsman's experience. 

" IDSTONE." 

Morden Vicarage, 

Near Blandford, 
Dorset. 

Jnly 22. 1872. 



8S07GG 



CONTENTS. 



I. AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS ... ... ...page 1 

IT. THE EOUGH RIDER ... ... ... ... 9 

in. THE FIRST OP MAY 22 

IV. "STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL" ... ... ... 36 

V. SHOOTING DRESS ... ... ... .. 41 

VI. SOME OLD PORTRAITS ... ... ... ... 50 

VII. DENS AND SANCTUMS 58 

Vm. THE RAT-CATCHER ... ... ... ... 65 

IX. EARLY MORNING IN LONDON ... ... ... 73 

X. THE EARTH-STOPPER ... ... ... ... 81 

XI. THE SHOOTING PONY 88 

XII. WHISTLE AND WHIP ... ... ... ... 94 

XEII. OLD TRAPS AND SPRING-GUNS 102 

XIV. TOM FRERE, THE HARD-RIDING FARMER ... Ill 

XV. EXPECTING BROWN ... ... ... ... 118 

XVI. BROWN IN THE COUNTRY ... ... ... 126 

XVII. THE EARTH-STOPPERS' FEAST 136 

XVIII. THE WHITE SNIPE 146 

XIX. SWANS AND EAGLES ... ... ... ... 155 



VI CONTENTS. 

XX. THE PHILOSOPHY OF MISSING ... ... page 163 

XXI. SHOOTING IN ALDEBNEY ... ... ... 171 

XXII. SHIBKEBS 170 

XXm. Otre BLACK HEATH 180 

XXIV. TBAPS AND CALLS 180 

XXV. NOBTHWABD 194 

XXVI. A BBIGHT OCTOBEB 199 

XXVII. VABIED SHOOTING 207 

XXVin. THE END OF THE SEASON 212 

XXIX. ON BEATING FOB GAME 216 

1. Flapper Shooting 220 

2. Partridge Shooting 228 

3. Hares 230 

4. Pheasant Shooting ... ... ... 235 

5. Wild Fowl 241 

6. A Bye Day with the Gun 255 

7. Driving Deer 263 

8. The End of the Season 267 

XXX. LAND VALUERS AND STEWARDS ... ... 275 

XXXT. SNIPE SHOOTING... ... 279 



THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER I. 

AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS. 

I WAS awoke by the barking of an old fox some winters ago, and, 
drawing aside the window blinds, looked out into the dark gloom 
amongst the trees which skirted our village road. The yelping 
had ceased for some minutes, and my vigilant dogs in the kennel 
no longer responded to it, nor were they excited by the glimmer- 
ing light from some lantern which was so dim and uncertain that 
it failed to show anything of the bearer thereof. It was evidently 
a common occasion. 

As I let the blind fall again, my little forty-shilling clock 
struck half-past four, and I then understood well enough that 
the "Jack o' lantern" was a carter going to feed his horses, 
which were stabled somewhat to the eastward of me. 

It set me thinking of the English labourers in general, of their 
early and late hours, their providence and prodigality, their 
virtues and their vices. I began to consider how they are repre- 
sented, say on the stage or by magazine writers ; what they 
appear in the eyes of squire or squireen, especially when he views 
them through the telescopic lens of a frilled steward, a butler, or 
his valet all of whom have very limited views, and the narrowest 
notions of the bucolic species. 

Before I proceed further, let me show that I have a right to be 
heard. I have lived amongst the labouring classes the greater 
part of my life. How many years? you say. Well, never mind. 
During that quarter of a century, more or less. I have frequently 
acted as their medical adviser, their lawyer, their mediator, and 
their severe Mentor the last not often ; I don't like it. In the 
matter of medicine, if I have done no good I have done little 

B 



Z THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 

harm, for I use the simplest drugs. I accept as gospel all I read 
in the "Domestic Medicine," lately published, or in self-evident 
cases I am guided by the wisdom of a shilling book, which, when 
T bought my medicine chest, was given in almanack' and all. 
The only danger is when I am compelled to " exhibit " powders, 
for I am not very clear about the weights ; and as the children 
have, in former days, made toys of the scales, they are a drachm 
or two out of square. Yet, as a physician, I am popular ; 
and one of my patients who had eaten too much at a club 
banquet paid me the highest compliment (after recover}'), saying 
that, " true enough, my doctoring was like hedge carpentering 
not neat-like, but everlasting strong." 

Of all the medicines known, give me those you can guess at, 
or measure with a spoon, which is much the same thing 
Gregory's powder, for example, in which I and my parishioners 
have the firmest faith. It is not a week ago that one of the 
stoutest men in my parish (T believe that he exceeds the girth of 
our largest elm tree by two inches) sent for a dose of my " head- 
ache tackle," as he irreverently called it ; and the wife, as she 
held out the bottle (they prefer it ready mixed), said her master 
hoped I would "give him a good dollop of it. for he wanted to be 
cured quick." 

I had a difficult case some time ago not the first by several. 
It was what is here called " hag-rod " (hag-rode), or nightmare. 
The patient was one of the very ugliest ploughboys I ever saw, 
and about fifteen or sixteen years old. They told me he was 
''dying," and, although the messenger had taken her time in 
coming for me, she desired me to lose no time in going to see her 
lodger, adding, in a whining voice, " It warn't his body, but his 
' sperrit ;' and that after supper, when he went to bed, ' the devil 
played the very wag with un.' " 

It is extraordinary what superstitions still obtain amongst our 
labourers. If one of twins die, and the limbs do not get rigid 
soon, they will delay the funeral, believing that the dead one is 
" waiting for the other," and the carelessness of the relatives will 
occasionally verify the assertion, for the dead one has not long to 
wait. In their own ailments they have unlimited faith in beer 
and brandy, and any medicine even tonics they believe 
' makes " them weak. 

They look upon the neighbouring magistrate as the embodi- 
ment of English law, and are rather fond of " pulling each other 
up." These quarrels are of a strictly parliamentary kind, never- 



AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS. 3 

theless, and I have frequently seen the plaintiff take the defendant 
in his cart to a court of justice, and as often bring him back 
again, or vice versa ; whilst the animosity, the swearing, and the 
conviction, all are buried at the nearest public house. 

My legal experience is confined for the most part to the 
making of wills (agreements or other documents we use none). 
The few who happen to have a score or two of pounds lend it at 
"use" or interest without any other than a verbal agreement, 
and often with no security at all. Generally unforgiving with 
regard to assaults, they are very lax in money matters, and pretty 
easily defrauded, except the recovery of the sum. or part of it, 
can be managed for them by the interference of a magistrate. 
Unless you make a will for them, they are certain to break down, 
and they have a weakness for letting the testator "sign it/' and 
taking it into other houses for the separate and independent 
signature of two witnesses as required, generally selecting the 
man's eldest son. who will be benefited, and a lad of twelve or 
fourteen years old. I once detected much such a case as this, 
where the will was, of course, no better than waste paper. 

Well, the glimmer of that lantern on a winter's morning 
determined me to look into the unseen life of these farm labourers, 
and I set to work. I was not long in discovering the man whose 
early movements I detected ; indeed. I could track him in the 
snow when I went to my kennel in the morning. I have a fancy 
for noticing the footprints of all that live in my village, and I 
can verify the impression made by almost all the men, some of the 
women and children, and a good many horses and other cattle. 

Here I saw the wide, awkward, hobnailed, thick-waisted prints 
of the old carter's boots, and recognised his wide, lounging, 
undrilled stride, the outward direction of his toes, and the 
common practice with those of his genus to tread principally on 
his heels. I determined to find out from him the course of his 
daily life, the amount of his family, the hours of his work to 
describe faithfullv and in an unromantic way what he called 
"the heft" (the chief points) of his history one I took notes 
of as I sat in his cottage, and which with him has ended before 
I began ! I found his home was one of two old cottages which, 
for economy's sake, were built together, and, picturesque enough 
for Wilkie or Morlaml, was nevertheless, like certain whited 
sepulchres, fairest on the outside, though clean within. There 
was a small garden or yard, desolate enough in that winter's 
time, though the margins of it in summer were gay with holly- 

B 2 



4 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

hocks, of which he had a famous selection, tastefully arranged 
according to their colours, from black to white. He was known 
for miles as one of the most celebrated growers of " fancy 
pinks " in all the county, so that it was no uncommon thing to 
see a smart carriage and bonnets, which set our village in a stir, 
stopping with patience until he had returned to set a price upon 
some of his new seedlings or old-established favourites. I did 
not go to his house by appointment, but dropped in about that 
time in the evening when I expected he would have finished his 
supper, for just then T have almost always found his class are 
most communicative. I need hardly say it was past the hour 
known about us as "duckish " so called because at that precise 
time you may indistinctly see, and very easily hear, the rush of 
the wildfowl going out to sea, when they pass over you like a 
whirl of wind. Indeed, I so contrived it that I got my " flight 
shot" just before I ''knocked off" for the night; and as I was 
not wet in the feet, I sent home the spaniels, strolled over the 
old moor, and took up my station ; gave the flight both barrels, 
picked up two and a half couple of ducks (one a mallard), and, 
lighting my pipe, sat down as my retriever walked up the swamp 
and at last got my cripple. All right : a couple for the home 
department, and the other for old Nichols (that was the labourer's 
name), whose tracks and lantern I had seen. 

He had just finished his supper as I expected, and as he sat 
meditating over the fire (he was no smoker) I began to talk to 
him about things in general, before I touched upon his depart- 
ment in the farm establishment. It was a large room, with a 
chimney corner as big as a small parlour, and a chimney up 
which you could have driven a small cart. Looking up it, I 
could make out a fine planet and several stars, for the sky was 
clear and frosty. Half-way up were two flitches of bacon 
"drying," and a pig's "face " or two. A large pot or cauldron 
was boiling, or nearly boiling, on the turf fire, which was cheered 
up with two sticks to keep the other generally sluggish fuel 
blazing. Behind the fire I noticed an iron back, about two and a 
half feet square, with the date in raised letters, 1625 ; a floral 
cross embossed on the top of it. and surrounded by a "rope 
pattern " border. The fuel was kept together by a pair of iron 
fire-dogs, which were probably coeval with the fire-back, and 
the sides of the corner had been ornamented with Dutch tiles, 
giving some Scripture history, the main points whereof were 
wanting. A large eight-day clock, a chest of drawers, a kitchen 



AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS. 

dresser furnished with six or eight pewter or brass vessels, a 
bell-metal pot or two, and a row of jugs, filled one side of the 
room. Esau selling his birthright, and a little table thick with 
china dogs, glass ornaments, two watch stands, a glass rolling- 
pin, and a chalk parrot, balanced these first-named articles of 
furniture ; and there were the portraits in black frames of two 
prodigiously large-eyed spaniels, a bird-cage (empty), and a 
Dutch oven on the other. The window side was nearly all 
curtains and geraniums, and the chimneypiece was a mass of 
brass candlesticks. The bacon rack was as yet occupied with 
walking sticks, some trimmed, some still in the rough : and 
amongst them I could see toe blue wand which the carter 
carried as he walked with his club to church upon Whit-Monday. 
I found that he had begun life by keeping birds off the corn 
at seven years of age, ' ; for there was eight of us in family, and 
bread was terrible dear." What wages he got then he didn't 
know, but he had none of it. At ten he could "hold plough." 
but the wooden ploughs with only one wheel dragged him all 
over the field, and it wai hard work he could assure me ! Then 
he had half-a-crown a week, and his mother made his clothes. 
When his boots got worn in holes it was very hard, and he used 
to come home with his feet bleeding. At fifteen he had five 
shillings a week, and in dear times six ; but then, especially in 
summer, he had long hours, from six or even four in the morning 
until six or eight, or even ten o clock, because ''you see he was 
with the horses." He remembered how proud he was when he 
was first made carter. He was about eighteen years old. and 
from that time until the time I saw him he had been nothing 
else. So accustomed was he to be up and dressed at four o'clock, 
that on Sundays he could not lie in bed. In winter he might be 
a little later, but not much : and " if horses are to look well, 
the more hours your carter is with them the better." There 
is no way of inducing a young tender-gummed horse to eat, or 
one that has a little overworked himself, like giving him a 
handful at a time. I sits in the old corn bin and gives 'on a bit 
each, and talks to 'en (he said), or puts the harness to rights 
here and there, or anything that is wanted. A carter has always 
something to do. They work from six to two in summer, from 
seven to two in winter. Two hours is not too much for them to 
feed, and between whiles I get iny cup of tea. Perhaps I pull 
up a few minutes at twelve or sooner, and get a bit of bread and 
choose, but just as often I don t stop until they come home. 



6 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

Then I take off their harness, and look round their feet, and 
sponge out their eyes and 'noses,' and if they are cool enough I 
take them to the pond to drink. When they come back I tie 
them up and feed them a little at a time, and cut the chaff if it's 
winter, or go and cut the vetches or green stuff if it's summer 
time, and the boy and 1 bring it home. Then what cleaning the 
stable wants we do it, and keep on attending to them all the 
while. There's the water to pump into ' our trough,' and 
different things to do. At six in summer I get my supper, and 
then I have time to myself generally until nine. I'm almost 
always too tired to go gardening, and sometimes I have to get 
water for the missis and fill our pans." 

And for this old Nichols got 9*'. a week and a house and garden 
1. extra for the harvest month the carriage home of his fuel, 
about 2000 of turf, and a couple of hundred faggots. The turf 
would cost him half-a-crown a thousand, the faggots sixteen 
shillings a hundred. He would rent enough potato ground at 
about a sovereign a year. His ready-made suit would cost him 
a pound a year, and he estimated his clothes at thirty shillings a 
year, "not reckoning his boots," of which he would require two 
pairs at fourteen shillings each ; a "slop." or short linen frock, 
costs five shillings, a shirt three shillings, knee-breeches (cotton 
cord) twelve shillings, a hat half-a-crown. 

At one time six of them had to live upon eighteen shillings a 
week. His furniture when he first married cost him about five 
pounds, independent of beds and furniture, which cost five pounds 
more. His "girls" had nothing until they were fourteen years, 
old, when they went out to service, but they helped to glean corn 
after harvest, and so brought in several bushels of wheat and 
barley. As he got on his master raised him a shilling a week, 
and when he went to a town he was allowed a shilling extra ; 
but then (he remarked) he had driven thirty-two miles on the 
road, and several times had his horses in their harness twenty 
hours out of twenty-four. 

"Then you know," his wife joined in. " we were always care- 
ful, or we never could have lived. I used to go out to nurse, and 
make the clothes of other people's children as well as my own. 
I have been to nurse a poor woman, and at odd times put all 
their things to rights with my needle, and so I was always out 
when I could be spared, which was when my daughter was about 
thirteen." 

"Yes," her husband added, "I remember her one time going 



AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS. 7 

to nurse a woman that kept a lodge gate, and had a number of 
things given her, and there was a nice pair of trousers the gentle- 
man had given to her little boy, who was all in rags, on condi- 
tion that the lazy mother altered them for him, and made them 
fit. Of course they were a good deal too large for the little boy, 
so what did the lazy body do but cut the legs off the right length ? 
and as they were a deal too big behind, she put a skewer through 
and tied a string round it, so that when my wife got there he 
looked just like a monkey with a tail. You can't help such folks 
as them." 

"Let's look at the upstairs department," I said, as soon as his 
"tale " was ended ; and accordingly we went upstairs. All neat 
and pleasant enough ; nothing to complain of in any way. Clean, 
well-arranged beds, the carter's suffocating with curtains and 
four-posts, which prevented all circulation ; but if h would have 
it so, it was not for me to do more than the Oxford proctor did : 
"I go my way," he said, "and let the undergraduates go theirs." 
Then I asked him whether he had not found two sleeping rooms 
too few when he had all those children at home. He owned he 
did, but he added : " If I'd had more room I should have taken 
lodgers, and so would nearly all of us." And this is my ex- 
perience. Not long after this conversation with him, he was 
" death -struck," as the people called it, in the field in fact, he 
had an attack of paralysis, which carried him off in a few days ; 
and in my churchyard there lies one more scrupulously honest 
man. 

My neighbour's horses, under the management of his new 
carter, don't look as they did. I don't mean to insinuate that he 
sells his horses' corn, or, as he would tell you, " shirks his work ;" 
but he has not, like old Nichols, his master's interest at heart. 
He is later in the morning. No three or four o'clock for him, 
but what he calls "lawful hours." If the horses can't eat then- 
food in an hour, there must be something the matter with 'em ; 
and he can mix up stuff that will make their coats slik (sleek), 
and make them eat anything he puts before them. 

"What is it ? Well, some of it's vitriol, and there's butter of 
antimony in it, and arsenic, and lots of things. He gave an old 
carter a shilling for it," and so on. 

He doesn't " hold with " feeding a little at a time. It's best 
to give 'em what you mean to give 'em, and lock em up for the 
night ; and if there's any left, or all left, leave it there till they 
do eat it. He also keeps his horses " short of water," saying 



8 THE EDSTONE PAPERS. 

there is no "proof" (nutriment) in water, adding that to drink 
water only for a week would kill him. 

And yet this "hawbuck," who can give you ten thousand 
reasons for every ignorant, selfish action of his, had ten times the 
education of poor old Nichols, who could only throw his weekly 
earnings into his wife's lap every Saturday night, and leave her 
to make the best of it ; but whose arithmetic carried him no 
further than to tell what he paid for turnpikes three months 
after paying them ; and this was rather to be considered a feat 
of memory observable in the illiterate, who have a remarkable 
storehouse for trifles. " It is well on some accounts that a man 
should not read or write," one of my ex-dog-breakers once told 
me. " If you've book knowledge, you've so many things on your 
mind you gets confused. Now," he went on (pointing to his third 
waistcoat button with his finger), "I knows nothing in the whole 
world but dog breaking and making ' bee pots ' (beehives), and 
so I'm never at a loss." Certainly, with old Nichols his team I 
may say his teams, for he had the supervision of all the horses 
well, his horses were everything to him, his newspapers, his club, 
his pipe, and his pocket money. I drew this out of him. He 
said he was ashamed to own it, that was true ; but he was more 
hurt when master's roan colt died than if he had lost one of his 
children. " I was," he said, "so took up with him ; such a pair 
of shoulders he had ! and such a back and line ! (loin). He was 
murdered too, that colt was, sir. He fell into a ditch, and I 
wasn't there. WeD, they took down a horse to pull him out, and 
the boys put the cart rope round his head, and pulled him out so 
rough that he died a few minutes after on the bank. I wouldn't 
have had it happen," said poor old Nichols, looking round for 
some means of expressing his bereavement, " I wouldn't have had 
it happen for a shilling. When did it happen, sir ? well, my 
wife can tell you ; she wrote it down in our family register ; oh, 
I remember, two days before Candlemas!" 



THE ROUGH EIDER. 



PAPER II. 

THE ROUGH RIDER. 

"DAVIS," I said, as I crossed my stable-yard the last day but 
one in November, " I want to know where to find ' The Three 
Pigeons.' " 

" Either," said Davis (who was a London groom), as he touched 
his forehead respectfully with one finger, " either, sir, in Stratford 
Green or Bermondsey." 

'Nonsense," I replied, "I mean the place where the hounds 
meet to-morrow ; and you had better go and ask." 

However, all attempts to discover the locality proved unavail- 
ing, when I thought of sending for old Bertie. " Thirteen miles, 
sir, from here." he informed me. as he came up at a quick walk, 
and not very easy place to find; a good deal of it is cross- 
country road and bver the Downs. When you get to the cross- 
roads you take the turn to the left, and then you go straight five 
miles good, and then " 

Oh ! " I said, ' I am inclined no give it up. for I ain sure I 
should never find my way, with my ignorance of the country and 
all landmarks. Is there anyone going from here, Bertie ? " 

" No," he said, as he lifted his hat to rub his forehead, and 
looked thoughtfully upon the gravel, " unless Enoch's agoing. I 
can go and see, if you like, sir." 

' And who is Enoch ? '' I asked, for I had never heard of this 
celebrity. 

'Well, said Bertie, "he's a rough rider, we call him. or a 
horse-breaker, or whatever it is. He always is riding the young 
hunters and making 'em handy in the season, and he's got a body 
break,' and uses horses to harness and the road, and such like. 
His cottage is not more than a half mile away. ' 

"Well, Bertie." I replied, "let us go and see, for perhaps he 
will pilot me to 'The Three Pigeons.' and if he cannot I must 
puzzle it out myself somehow." 

If the " meet" was difficult to find. Enoch's home was not, for a 
straight road with heather on each side, and now and then a 
clump of magnificent hollies, soon brought us to a neat stone 



10 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

cottage, flanked by a longish stable and coach-house, at the gable 
ends of which buildings I observed apricot trees trained with, 
skill, forming the southern boundary to as neat a kitchen garden 
as it has been my lot to see. A ''hard lad." his hair cut ex- 
ceedingly short, and with trousers very tight and wrinkled, was 
sponging a harness at the saddle-room door, and seeing us walk- 
ing up the path he left his work to call his father for so he 
proved to be who nodded to Bertie with the familiarity of an 
old acquaintance, and touched his hat to me. 

He might have been any age. from twenty-eight to fifty, 
judging from his face, which had a slightly gladiator cast of 
feature, relieved by a good tempered expression. The cheek 
bones high, the eyes small, black, bright, and restless ; the nose 
rather aquiline, the lips thin and compressed, the chin large and 
close shaven ; he gave you the notion of a resolute, bold, de- 
termined man, who had his passions thoroughly under control,, 
whilst his manners were" a sort of compromise between the stable 
and the parlour ; and, without affecting any familiarity, he 
seemed as much at ease with strangers as I eventually found him 
in the saddle. He had powerful arms, thin, clean limbs, and a 
longish back in proportion to his height. " On- land " he did not 
appear quite to advantage, and he walked, so Bertie said, " as if 
he was hobbled." 

I soon told him the purport of our visit, which he expressed 
himself as most ready to carry out ; and briskly opening the 
stable door, he said, " Perhaps you would like to walk in and just 
see the horses, sir ;" adding parenthetically, "perfectly quiet, sir ;. 
and we have no secrets, as the racing men pretend they have. I 
remember once, sir," he continued, " a gentleman as owned a 
celebrated racehorse told me to call at his trainer's as I went by, 
and to ask how he was going on. So I called at the house and gave 
the gentleman's card, and I says my message. The trainer a 
very fat man he was he looks at the card and held it out at 
arm's length ; but I don't think he could read it, between you 
and I, sir ; and he says to me, ' The horse is very well,' he said, 
' but I couldn't let you see him,' he says, ' for forty pounds ; and 
if the gentleman came himself I shouldn't wish him to see him for 
another ten days or a fortnight, and you may tell him so from 
me,' he says very loud. 'I'll be sure to give your message, sir,' 
I says to the trainer, ' but at the Same time,' I says, as I stepped 
into my dog-cart. ' I know something of racing stables, and at a 
second rate establishment I should feel pretty confident that for a 



THE EOUGH EIDEE. 11 

5 note I could see any horse in it, or, if I particularly wished 
it, that I could drive him in a gig.' Here's a nice young horse, 
sir," he added, as he stripped a dark bay thorough-bred and let 
his head down ; " a hardy constitutioned horse, and no day too- 
long. I shall ride him to morrow, if we find at once ; and, if 
not, I shall ride the black one, or he may be a little too much 
for my boy he's hot, terrible hot with hounds." 

Besides these two I saw a very smart harness-horse an iron- 
grey and a weight carrier which had just arrived ; and having 
reviewed the merits of these animals one after the other, we 
accepted Enoch's invitation to walk into his parlour ; and a very 
neat tidy parlour it was. Over the mantelpiece hung Landseer's 
white pony and Newfoundland, the dog holding whip and bridle 
in his mouth, and two or more foxes' heads, well preserved, were 
suspended around the wall. A box of cigars, a new silver- 
mounted hunting-whip, and one or two blackthorn gig-whips, 
evidently kept for high days and holidays, were tokens that he 
had given satisfaction to his employers. He showed us his 
"curiosities '' one after another with great good nature. Of some 
he was not a little proud. One of them was a stirrup-iron bent 
almost into a figure of eight, of which he remarked : '' I was riding 
a young horse, and a Oxford gent let a gate fall back in his face. 
He plunged and caught the stirrup-iron in or on the gate-hook, 
and bent it like that. My foot came out at the very moment, 
and I wasn't hurt a bit." "Here's a curious thing," he said as 
he showed us a piece of wood nearly as thick as a wine cork, and 
twice as long ; this was taken out of a grey mare's hock, after 
it had quite healed, and she had hunted the whole season. She 
used to go a little stiff at first, and then it wore off. She belonged 
to Joe Symonds, at Oxford, and one day old Wilde, the vet., was 
looking at her, and he says, 'Wot's this 'ere ! ' so he out 
with his knife and cut the skin and pulled out this plug." 
/'But this," he said, "lvalue most of all the things I have/' 
showing me a little gold locket, containing a lock of the red 
chesnut mane of Eclipse. " That," he said, " there is no doubt 
about. You can see the insci'iption on it. and I don't know of 
anyone that has any except me ; but the lash of the challenge 
whip at Newmarket is made of Eclipse's tail they say, as well as 
the wrist-string. Here's a picture of the old horse, too. with his 
white leg behind, going with his nose close to the ground and his 
head loose ; and the writin' at the bottom says he was never 
flogged, nor spurred, and also that he was a roarer. However, he 



12 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

\vas the making of Kelly, his owner, and some horses ruins their 
masters! " 

With the exception of some bone of a horse's neck, which by 
the aid of a little ink judiciously applied he believed he had 
made to resemble a monk preaching, we had exhausted his stock 
of curiosities, all of which Bertie had seen many a time before, 
and, as he afterwards told me, with a different tale each time ; 
but this he owned was only said to vex Enoch, and nothing did it 
so effectually. 

I now entered into arrangements for " The Three Pigeons " 
and the next day's hunting. TheSe were that Enoch should 
drive me over in his dog-cart, and that his son should ride the 
young horse to the meet in company with my groom. ' That.'' 
said Enoch, ' will be a good thing for me. because my young 
horse is a bit rusty at leaving the stable, and he will start very 
well with company." 

Accordingly, next morning Enoch appeared, punctual to his 
tune, in a high cart with a brown harness, and a very promising 
young animal between the shafts. The height of the vehicle 
would have prevented much damage from light heels, in all 
probability, but to make sure a very strong kicking strap passed 
over the horse's hind quarters close to the root of the tail, and I 
also observed a sort of rope breeching, which did not come into 
operation unless the horse lashed out, when it stopped the action 
of the kicker in a most wonderful manner, or, as Enoch called it, 
" nipped vice in the bud." 

I got up gently into the cart, and Enoch chirrupped in a low 
tone once or twice, but the youngster did not feel inclined to 
start : upon which he dropped the reins, and his youngest boy, 
who stood by the horse without touching him, put his hand upon 
the shaft and patted his neck gently once or twice; the only 
return for this on the part of the four-year-old being that he 
tossed his head and viciously blew his nose. Perhaps two or 
three minutes were thus consumed, when Enoch's second signal 
was more successful, and after two or three slight plunges he 
sailed away with magnificent action, something like that of the 
red deer as he crosses the boulders of a " forest." 

'' I find that," said Enoch, "so much better than wrestling with 
them; and after a few minutes they get ashamed of themselves." 

We met with no adventures (beyond a wish on the horse's part 
to cut corners, and one or two narrow escapes of a bolt, owing to 
some carters cracking their whips as we passed their teams) until 



THE BOUGH RIDER. 1$ 

we were within a couple of miles of our destination, when, as the 
Trapper did not go well up to his bit, Enoch dropped him a couple 
of consecutive sharp cuts down his shoulder, which made him shake 
himself together. 

This is exactly the point in which servants fail ; they let a 
young horse slouch when a trifle weary, and imperil his action or 
even his safety at once. 

We now began to pass the various members of the hunt who 
were riding to the meet, but in the distance saw a four-in-hand 
and a very light and graceful mail phaeton. Before we reached 
either of these vehicles we overtook young Enoch on the black 
blood horse, in company with my man and horse, and we pulled 
up to give the young one a wide berth, so that I had a good oppor- 
tunity of seeing the firm neat seat of the breaker's son, who, hands 
well down and his back a little hollow, let his nag play and jump 
a bit without any interference until we were almost out of sight. 

" Sending on is a great thing, depend on it," said Mr. Enoch, 
" The only time I was near fighting was about sending horses 
to covert. I was bred up in a racing stable, and the trainer I was 
apprenticed to would have no swearing nor fighting. We used to 
all go to morning church ever so many times a week, and wear 
these surplices and sing in the choir, and do whatever the parson 
liked ; for our trainer and he were great folks, and a piece of his 
land cut right through our run in, and I've heard master say 
that though he was a clergyman he was as good a judge of when 
a horse was fit and all that as anyone he ever knew out of 
the profession. And being in such good company of course 
we all was respectable, and had evening school, and singing 
classes, and all sorts ; but fighting wasn't taught, and no swear- 
ing allowed. Well, after I left this place, I took to riding young 
hunters, and married and came into that cottage I live in and a 
few pounds besides ; and I was up at our squire's on one of the 
young ones, when the old squire and a great long gentleman came 
out to look through the stables, and a Catholic priest was with 
them as good a man and as good a rider as anyone, let his 
religion be what it may. The great long gentleman's groom was 
half asleep and three parts drunk when they got to the stable- 
door : but he jumped up from the corn-bin, and made believe 
he'd been at work for his life, instead of making everybody do 
his work, and abusing them afterwards ; and he turned over his 
master's horse for the priest to look at. ' Aye.' said his rever- 
ence, ' a rare good one, too, for a heavy man ; but my little blood 



14 THE IDSTOXE PAPEB3. 

mare will show you the way to-morrow for all that. I only wish 
that I could send her on.' ' If master don't mind,' said the 
groom, ' I can lead her on for you, sir/ and so it was settled. I 
saw a few words passed between master and man, but I did 
not know what the plot was till next day. I knew they had 
sixteen miles to go to covert, and so I got up very early to walk 
on, meaning to lead my horse a good bit of the way and take my 
time." 

" "Well, perhaps I had got about two miles, when I saw this 
great fat rascal riding the poor little blood mare and coming along 
at a good trot, pulling his master's great sixteen-hand horse 
behind him ; the poor little mare warping and twisting under 
him, and strained all to pieces. It wasn t my business, you 11 
say, but I took a share in the concern at once, and as soon as he 
came up I said, ' You get off that mare directly, Mr. Yorkshire- 
man, and ride your master's.' He gave me some of his sauce and 
was very liberal in bad language, but when I rode up alongside of 
him and shook my hunting crop over him for I was riding a big 
vicious thorough-bred Birdcatcher chestnut, and could look right 
down on him he gave it up, and I took the mare away from him 
and led her myself. He was a mock teetotaller, the worst of all 
impostors ; and a week after he tried to give me a thrashing for 
my interference, but found he was no use, I could walk round 
him like a cooper tightening the hoops of a cask. His master 
found him out at last. He shared the corn with the horses, but 
took the biggest half himself." 

By this time we had reached '-'The Three Pigeons,"' whereat 
were assembled twenty or thirty hunters and servants) whilst the 
hounds, huntsman, and whips were under an old oak on a green 
hill about two hundred yards beyond, surrounded by a " field" 
of perhaps fifty or sixty, and twice that number of pedestrians ; 
in the midst of whom I saw a carriage or two, and an old gentle- 
man on a clever pony, who they told me had kept hounds for over 
fifty years at his own expense. 

There were plenty to help Enoch get his young horse clear of 
the shafts, and to wash his feet and make him comfortable : and, 
as many hands make light work, he had his nag all right in the 
stable, and was able to refresh himself somewhat, before his boy 
appeared in company with my groom. 

Very shortly there was a general move, and we were proceeding 
at a leisurely pace to the first covert, which was at the back of 
this old and well-known hostelry, formerly the residence of what 



THE BOUGH RIDEE. 15 

Enoch called " these 'ere Catholics." To all appearance it had 
been a monastery, or one of those offshoots to a religious house 
which you so often see diverted from the original purpose of its 
founder. 

As I settled myself in my saddle and signalled Enoch to come 
as near to me as the restless eye and " skittishness" of his " young 
'un" warranted, I made the few observations I have jotted down ; 
but, a stranger amongst this very large "field," I desired to gam 
some information as to the names and characters of the various 
men who were bent upon the same errand as myself. 

" Who is that on the grey, Enoch, with the patent boots and 
the large cigar in front of him ?" I asked, as a youngster, almost 
all nose, and with anything but a good seat, thrust forward 
through the muddy lane as though the fox had broken. " Some- 
body's nephew, Sir," said the rough rider, as soon as he could 
steady himself, for the young one was "raking" at the bit, and 
trying to jam himself between the two men in front of us (men 
it wouldn't do to ruffle, for they wore the button and subscribed). 

"That." said my companion, as he put his forefinger to his 
black felt hat, the movement making the horse he rode wince 
again, "that's some midshipman, sir. He's at most meets, but 
no deaths. That's 'Will o' the Wisp' just afore you," pointing 
to a chesnut, " gridironed all over for spavin, curb, ringbone, and 
clap of the back sinews ; but, for all that, a difficult horse to catch 
with the M.P. up." Then we had the whole life of the ex-M.F. 
on the clever pony, given spasmodically ; for the clatter of the 
horses' heels in this narrow lane, and the constant thrusting for- 
ward of some lad just off the shop-board, gave Enoch enough to 
do, so that his biography was something of this kind : 

" Woo, now he's had four wives quiet with you and buried 
three of them come up, hoss and this last, they tell me, she 
likes a drop I must alter my curb chain about one link there's 
the horn ! I do believe, sir. they've found yes, there they go 
no yes back again, out t'other side. That midshipman's headed 
the fox that's all he ever does. Gone away ; I thought so ; I 
see the master take off his hat ;" and letting his horse, who had 
been going all this time on his hind legs, have his head a bit, the 
rough rider touched his hat to me, and for the present I saw him 
no more. 

As I got on to secure a good place, I noticed the middy's horse 
loose, and the patent leathers higlu-r than their owner's head, 
much begrimed with mud, his hat as wrinkled as my top boots 



16 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

and just after I camo to grief myself. " What are all these fellows 
halloaing to me for ? ' said I, as I went at a very negotiable hedge 
and ditch this side. 

I knew the next second, for I jumped flop into a bog. 

Up to -the girths in mud and ooze, the cold water filtering 
through your boots, and your horse changed suddenly into a 
walrus, and getting, by his vain plunges, deeper into the mire, is 
a trying change for any man who has just left his hotel without 
speck or blemish, expecting to sail away and take a line of his 
own. 

How I got out I don't know to this day ; but, escape I did. and 
I was at once surrounded by half-a-dozen of those pedestrian* 
who couldn't run. 

One of these Samaritans an exceedingly "high blower" at 
once extemporised wisps from the rushes, which he cut with his 
knife, and commenced grooming my boots and knees with the 
hissing sound peculiar to his calling, which, from his complexion 
I at once perceived to be that of a tipsy " odd man," or helper. 
Two or three merely stared at my muddy hunter, and took no 
part, until one of the number, who possessed the sense of the 
whole meeting, appeared with a cart rope borrowed at the inn, 
and made a noose at one end of it, which even Mr. Calcraft would 
have commended. 

When this catastrophe occurred I had seen very little of boggy 
land. I have learnt since to discover it at a glance. I find that 
any horse well used to the moorland will avoid those bright green 
patches of short moss which, to the unpractised eye, look so sub- 
stantial ; and that nothing will induce a heath-bred pony, known 
as a "heath cropper/' to set his foot upon that tough but quake- 
ing fibrous peaty carpet, on which I can walk up snipe or widgeon 
with impunity, although the vibration, as I stop suddenly, is apt 
to disturb my aim. 

To the clump of rustics who prepared to extricate my nag. a 
stranger's horse in a swamp was no new thing. The chief diffi- 
culty, a groom (who had joined us from the "Three Pigeons") 
told me, was "to get his 'ead round the right way, 'cause," he 
added, "you see, sir, his feet haven't got no purchase." When 
this was accomplished it was not long before he was on firm ground 
again, and, though shaking nervously and much begrimed, little 
if at all the worse. 

I had scarcely distributed some loose silver and remounted 
not knowing, I confess it, which way to go when I thought I 



THE BOUGH EIDER. 17 

heard the horn ; and at the same time I observed a move in the 
cluster of pedestrians, who had not lost sight of the hounds, or 
the scarlet welter-weights which hang on the skirts of most 
hounds when running. Yes, there, a mile away, I catch sight of 
the huntsman, conspicuous in the bright gleam of sunshine 
through which he is passing at the moment, in his scarlet, which 
contrasts forcibly with his old white horse ; and. black and saffron 
and white spots, all around him are the celebrated lady pack the 
descendants of Jasper, Duster, Furrier, Comus, Trojan, and old 
Hercules. As I make out so much, huntsman and hounds mount a 
knoll or hill, and, with the light strong on them, their forms stand 
out clear and sharp against the dull and rainy sky ; the pinks 
soon show behind them in little groups ; and, as I turn to get to 
them, I meet at a bend in the sandy track the second whip 
coming along at a smart canter upon a blood chesnut with a 
vicious eye he is a wiry, thin, beetle-browed lad. To all appear- 
ance a well-suited pair are horse and man ; a fellow with not many 
words to spare, and those few he throws out at me as he goes on 
without turning his head, or noticing, as it seems to me, that I 
had come to grief. 

They say a fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind. But it 
has no effect on him. I can see he has had a nasty fall, for his 
head is cut, and his " hoss, " as he calls him, is stained with mud 
like mine. " Goin' to the Decoy,'' he blurts out, as he breaks 
out of the track for me, and rides over the moor where ruts and 
anthills are hidden by the long grass and heather, pulling up on 
the crest of another barrow, whence he could command a view 
of the old decoy, as I imagined and I was right. 

I had not gone far, leaving this disciple of La Trappe to quarrel 
with his vicious horse alone, when I came upon the rough rider, 
who had turned to look for me. I could not ride very near him, 
for his young pupil was full of excitement, and, with his " nostril 
all wide " and every vein showing, required the best of hands 
and a good balance, especially as his head was now just turned 
away from the hounds. 

" We only had fifteen minutes," the rough rider told me. " when 
some shepherd and his dog headed him, and he ran into a little 
copse, where they mobbed him to death. Now they are going to 
draw the decoy out in the heath yonder, among those little oaks 
and alders, and one horse here is as good as another. Nothing 
for this country," he added, " like a pony bred on it ; they never 
fall down among the ruts, and know the safe ground as well y.s 

c 



18 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

you do." He might have said much better, for I had just made 
my first acquaintance with the softest place in the country ; and, 
as I now know, about a pole further on there was mud enough to 
buiy a load of hay. 

The Decoy has always been a favourite meet. On this heath 
you always get a scent, let the weather or state of the atmos- 
phere be what they may. I suppose the fox brushes against the 
heather and leaves his fragrance upon the stems ; at any rate, 
hounds can always run there breast high. Nor have I ever 
known that decoy drawn blank. Wet as the ground is, there is 
grand lying for a fox on the grass hassocks, which stand on firm 
stems a foot and more in breadth, three, four, and five feet high, 
supporting a bed of long grass a yard in diameter or more. 

These strange vegetable productions are the resort of many a 
wild animal or bird, and when they grow close together, or so 
near that the fox can jump from one to another of them as they 
stand high and dry above the flooded swamp, they are admirably 
suited for his protection. Here he listens for the faintest splash, 
and, selecting as he does the highest and thickest for his siesta, 
he can lie perdu, and steal away upon the first alarm of hound or 
horn. Upon this occasion we caught him napping, and, under 
the guidance of my friend the rough rider, I was able to get a 
very good view of the draw and find. 

.We got to our post of observation long before the hounds, 
who with their huntsman, had a considerable circuit to make 
that they might escape some treacherous ground, and, by crossing 
ten or a dozen hunting bridges made of rude fir poles and sods, 
reach the inner circuit of this old-established preserve of 
wildfowl. Before they passed the last bridge the sky was alive 
with ducks, which whirled over our heads, swept into the fen and 
out of it, whistled among the yellow reeds, and presently were off 
in shoals towards the seaboard and harbour, far beyond the range 
of any shoulder gun. 

The teal did not take the alarm until the hounds were waved 
in and they heard the huntsman speaking ; nor, I think, did they 
all get up until they actually saw him over the screens, and his 
red coat was reflected in the still water. Then they rose in 
separate bodies of three or more sections, and, flying low. swept 
the pond from end to end ; not like the ducks getting up high in 
the air, though, but keeping within shot sometimes for a minute 
or more together. A couple of ducks or so would now and then 
join company with the teal and widgeon, which last would settle 



THE ROUGH RIDER. 19 

outside the decoy, two or three score together, until a hound 
drawing close to them would put them up again. 

It was a sight worth seeing, that cold, dull, hungry-looking 
heath, holding the lonely decoy aloof from all that could disturb 
it, awakened by the crack of the whip, the splashing of the 
hounds, and the musical voice of the master ; whilst the little 
groups of scarlet and the various-coloured horses sprinkled about, 
made a picture which Davis, brother to the late royal huntsman, 
appreciated and painted well. 

Close to us sat a plethoric country gentleman, verv purple in 
the face, weighing perhaps twenty stone, who kindly described 
to me the various landmarks, and especially the point the fox 
would steal off for. unless he made for the squire's park : " and to 
prevent that you see, the master has put a whip on that barrow 
to head him back." I should have learnt a good deal more from 
him, but that just now the midshipman came floundering to us 
at a gallop his horse very nearly done, as he had been ' bucket- 
ing " him whilst the hounds were drawing, and yet he 
would not let the poor brute stand still one moment, or, if he 
did, was striking him on the head, wrenching his mouth, or try- 
ing with his short legs to spur him ; but here Providence inter- 
fered, for his little fat legs scarcely came below the saddle-flaps. 

" I can't think what's the matter with the brute." said the 
little " salt," hoping to attract attention to his equitation. 
" Why/' said the country squire (scarcely turning his head to 
look at him), " I should think he's like Billy Butler's horse, 
going to have an 'FIT.'" I did not hear the rejoinder, for just 
then, at my feet as it were, there was a rustle amongst the long 
grass, and a fine dog fox, ears close to his poll, stole away, his 
long brush scarce distinguishable from the ground ; and, as in a 
few yards he reached the bare short grass and peaty land, he put 
on the steam and trusted to his foot. 

Just then the whole pack opened, and were on the line like 
lightning, "No use to ride here," said my fat friend; "you'll 
see it all if you keep with me." I thought of what Jem Hill 
said of men who cant ride. "They are," he used to tell us, 
" the most aff ablest men as is.'' Whatever twenty stone thought 
of not riding, there were numbers of a very different opinion. 
Here comes a lady on a dark brown mare nothing can stop, 
though she makes no fuss about it, and never talks of hunting. 
" The very best hands in England !" says the rough rider, as 
she puts the mare at a bank and goes along in about the best 

c 2 



2;> THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

place for choice. " There's a lawyer as used to always want to 
put her life in the leases when she was first married, thinking 
she'd be killed and make him another job ; but he's given it up 
as a bad speculation, and picked out a consumptive family for 
his lives now. That's him," he added, '-with a glass in his eye. 
atop of the dark bay roarer, with a boot on each hind fetlock." 
And now we wended on together, I own it, in fear and trembling. 
for a fog was coming on ; and to be fogged and bogged was any- 
thing but a pleasant prospect. One moment we were crossing a 
turnpike road, the next breasting a hill, then going down a valley ; 
and all these varieties of ground occurred in semi-darkness. 

Occasionally the fog would lift, and my pilot, listening a 
moment, would turn sharp right or left, and we were close to the 
ruck again. The way we got over banks and "grips" there 
were no big places hitherto was quite a lesson to me. He 
seemed to let the young horse go how he liked, only stipulating 
that go he must, This was the rough rider's sine qua non. "No 
surrender go somewhere ; plenty of time to do it, only no 
turning." " In or over !" he said, as we could see in the distance 
a moderately wide brook brim full, and sent the young 'un at it 
forty miles an hour. "Over it is !" I heard him say to himself 
as he landed on the other side ; and just then we heard " Who- 
whoop !" The lady and dark brown mare were up, so was the 
master, and presently the middy at little over a walk, his poor 
nag sobbing audibly. Then one of the rough-riding fraternity, 
on a colt (he was little more) well known as the worst of buck- 
jumpers, who had broken more girths than any horse in the 
county. When I saw him he had a double girth, another above 
that, one long girth round the saddle and breastplate, and, if I 
forget not, a crupper also. 

After they had broken up the fox. we joined a company, and 
as we rode back to the Three Pigeons, these girths and the tackle 
the buck- jumper wore were the text for a homily from Enoch, 
who tried to describe to us a girth he had at home which a 
brother of his sent him from Australia, " made, you understand, 
a-purpose for these buck-jumpers, or what you call 'em. It is 
made of brown leather, plaited into thongs. It's a double girth, 
and each girth has four thongs of three braids each : that's eight 
thongs, and twenty-four strands, each thong as stout as the 
lower part of a hunting whip. When you girths up the horse, 
it isn't only that you gets so much strength, but each thong gets 
bedded in the hair, and the buck-jumper can't get his saddle 



THE ROUGH RIDER. 21 

forward, and with a breastplate he can't move it backwards, and 
if you can hold on he's beat." Although he proffered the use of 
it to the rider of the buck-jumper, it met with no response, 
except some objection on the score of new-fangled notions, and 
the assertion that "they foreigners knew nothing, and was full 
of falseness ;" with which fling at anything and everything not 
English-born the buck-jumper turned down a lane, and a few 
moments brought us to the inn. One glass of ale apiece, and 
Enoch's trapper was set agoing, and well in his stride for home. 



I? 2 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER III. 
THE FIRST OF MAY. 

FORMERLY I used to break my own dogs, and I was rewarded 
for my trouble and hard work ; for dogs, as a rule, perform best 
with the man who made them. 

Given strength, activity, and patience, and plenty of ground 
and game, and I know no healthier or more interesting occupa- 
tion ; and several times my good friend, the Doctor, has pulled 
up by the side of the quickset just breaking into leaf, to watch 
my young team backing and standing ; and let rne observe (as I 
walked from one dog to the other, giving a word of caution to- 
one, or commendation to another, and holding up the cat o' nine 
tails to one a little inclined to creep in) a sort of simulated 
despondency appeared in his countenance at the prospect of no- 
professional call for some time, at any rate 

When the season came to a close, as all pleasant times do, I 
use to watch the birds and rejoice to see them pair. Then I 
took as keen an interest in the green wheat and clovers as the 
most energetic fanner, and used to dream at night that there 
was plenty of "holding" for the birds, moist ground, and a 
burning scent. A little cloudy the sky used to be generally in 
these dreams, and a fine breeze, fresh, but neither cold nor 
warm ; and some old favourite pointer or setter performed again, 
which I woke up to know had long turned to dust again beneath 
the ribstone pippin trees in my grassy orchard ! 

Old Belle, out of the famous Staffordshire Queen (the Edge 
breed of pointers, dark liver and white), who, in form, and 
goodness and grandeur, and style of going, equalled her glorious 
mother, has often reappeared to me, and here is her history. 

She was sent from Staffordshire, a young thing full of life 
and sense. Better than a gift she came to me, if possible, for 
my friend Mr. Henry Meir, of Tunstall. the owner of Queen, who 
knew how I admired his team, and Queen most of all, put so 
moderate a price upon her that he just tried to make me think 
I was under no obligation to him ; but there were men I think 



THE FIEST OF MAY. 23 

then, and certainly there are now, who would have given the 
price of a covert hack apiece for all the litter. 

I had a speckled pointer (Julie) with a liver head, of which I 
had a very high opinion until Belle came ; but, when Edge's 
blood stood by the side of that Berkshire one, there was as much 
difference as a connoisseur would discover (though I should not) 
between "20 port " and rough Worcestershire cider. 

When I had got each separately to range to hand, I put them 
together, and for two days, from emulation, they ran up every- 
thing, although separately each seemed " coming." The third 
day I had hopes, for I was determined to fag them down by 
sheer walking, and neither seemed in peril of going wide ; and 
as I came back and got my brace to point and back for the first 
time, I own that I felt a pang as I reflected that the next day 
was Sunday. 

That day of rest upset everything ; they came pretty well to 
whistle on the Monday, and crossed each other merrily, but after 
four hours' work I could do nothing with them, so I went in to 
lunch and then I set off again. 

If I took one out alone, I could handle her pretty well, but 
the other would be getting fresh meanwhile ; and I had got 
nearly half a mile from my cottage wicket when I thought of a 
new plan. I therefore returned, and told my man to let Julie 
follow him briskly four miles along the sea-shore, then to come 
back and meet me at a wheat-field I pointed out ; and Belle and 
I worked our way towards it, and got some good steady points, 
and two or three grand ones too. 

It was a hot, or rather a close, afternoon on that fourteenth of 
March, and the Staffordshire pointer began to go much slower, 
though she still quartered and carried a high head, and her stern 
was full of action. I was just beginning to think I might stroll 
along two miles an hour and yet kept up with her, when she 
gave a short turn, and with her eyes dilated and nostrils all wide, 
up went the flag, and she drew herself together in as fine form 
as ever wanned a sculptor's heart. 

I stood and looked at her with much pride and satisfaction, 
and, raising the whip, began to talk to her and caution her to be 
steady, for I caught sight of a form, and a hare in it. twenty or 
thirty yards ahead. 

Gradually, I was able to get up to her, and, as Rarey would 
have said, to "gentle " her, and whilst I patted her I slipped the 
spring swivel of my check cord into the D link of her collar, 



24 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

and, giving her about twenty or thirty yards of line, I stamped, 
or rather trode in the peg. I then walked round (very cautiously, 
I admit), with my eye still on her, and very quietly put up the 
hare. 

"Ho! 'ware hare, Belle!" but all of no use. She shot after 
puss with a plunge that would not have disgraced a " Bedlamite," 
and nearly as soon was brought up all standing. I took her back, 
and, though I didn't like to do it, I gave her half a dozen strokes. 
After well rating her and taking off the line I let her hold up again. 
No sulks with that breed : she made three turns as lively and 
cheerful as though we had not been on bad terms, and all at 
once, in the middle of her fourth turn, she dropped from her 
light, airy gallop to a walk, and in three paces pulled up close to 
some deep old rushes and looked at me over her shoulder, and 
then with her mouth half open seemed to champ the scent. The 
same routine again ; but this time I went more carelessly up to 
her, as if I knew she could not do wrong, to give her confidence, 
and I again slipped on my line and pegged it, upon which she 
dropped somewhat reproachfully, and I went on to put up what 
I felt certain must be a hare, although I can't tell how I knew it. 
Before I did this I stood between Belle and the game, and very 
slightly menaced her with the whip held up, and then, as I care- 
fully trod the clumps of rushes, I was full of misgivings lest it 
should be a mistake. Not so Belle ; for whilst my attention was 
thus occupied, she had crept on, and was standing in as good 
form as ever close behind me. 

I gave her a slight stripe for " creeping," and put her back, 
and as soon as I left her she stood again, not quite so grandly 
this time, but yet well ; and exactly where I took her back from 
at any rate, in that line up jumped the hare. "Wo, ho, 
Belle !" and down she dropped as though I had shot her ; and 
now I had but to go and caution her and praise her in the same 
breath. 

We found four hares after Julie came, and the first they chased 
together to the fence, when Belle caught it pretty warmly, and 
Julie, who got a throw up from the peg and trace into the bargain, 
felt the weight of my man's arm, and required it twice more that 
day. By the time it was almost too dark to see I had them both 
pretty well in hand ; and as I put my feet up on the mantelpiece 
that night in my bachelor's home I felt that nay hard work was 
not thrown away. 

It is the rule of barbarous nations when they have an opponent 



THE FIRST OF MAY. 25 

down to keep him there ; and this is a good maxim for the 
breaker. So next morning I was up betimes to get a clear four 
hours, then luncheon, then professional duties in the prime of 
the day, and a hard two or three hours in the evening ; for dog 
breaking is not light work, and can't be neglected at the critical 
moment. 

After the second day I had no trouble with Belle, and little 
with Julie, although she would, it is true, occasionally follow a 
hare a few yards an offence I always met red-handed : for I 
knew she would never blink her birds a base act that baffles a 
breaker more than anything. 

At the end of March my dogs required simply a walk three 
days a week, and in the beginning of May, I could have sold 
them for Norway for a pretty handsome sum, and a worthless 
brace of shy pointers would have been thrown in ; but I expected 
an old acquaintance who liked good dogs, and the first day we 
were on the moors together, he told me as we rode home that 
they were quite as perfect a brace as he had seen for twenty 
years. 

Soon after, by great good luck, I recovered a black-tan strain 
of setters which I had lost for years, and next spring found me 
with four brace, which gave promise of furnishing me with many 
a night's rest of one long sleep and an appetite for breakfast ; 
and when my old friend the Doctor heard them wailing and 
racing round the yard in February, he told me his spirits sank 
within him, for he knew there would be no " pills and draughts, 
as before," for "Idstone " that year. 

"Urgent private affairs ' of which we heard so much years 
ajo, and which really meant so little prevented my giving so 
much time to dog breaking as in former springs, and I took out 
with rather a heavy heart what I thought the best combination 
of beauty, pluck, and intelligence. I could hear of no breaker 
worth his salt. One poor old fellow offered his services, but he 
had some heart disease and could not walk, therefore he de- 
pended on lead collars and heavy chains. The first of these I 
allow are useful, as equalising pace ; but give me the man who 
can walk his dogs down. I was hard at work with this No. 1 
pack of Gordons, as people call them (though for that matter 
they might as well, or better, call them " Ehves' setters,'' for the 
old tniser Ehves had them, and one used to hunt every field as 
his master rode to London ; afterwards the breed came, in 179f), 
into the possession of Mr. Pinfold, of Thaxted, in Essex.) 



26 THE ID3TONE PAPEES. 

Well. I was hard at work with this brace, which were driving 
everything out of the field, and I had just made up my mind 
they required no encouragement to hunt, and would do, when I 
observed a tall man with a red face watching me with curiosity 
as he stood upon the step of a rough wooden stile. 

"Think they'll do, sir?" he said, touching his hat as I got 
near him and saw that he had but one eye, a rather heavy whip, 
a whistle at his waistcoat button, and three or four pointers and 
setters with puzzle pegs in their mouths. "I suppose, sir, you 
don't want to put out any of your dogs to break," he continued ; 
" but I have room for three or four dogs, if you like to let me 
have them, sir." 

As this was exactly what I did want, I whistled up my two 
boys, whom I hired for a shilling a day to walk by the hedge 
sides and turn the dogs to me a course I prefer to "pulling 
them" to the whistle (by the way, they ought to learn to come 
to whistle before their breaking begins) and turned for home 
with my new acquaintance. I very soon saw enough to convince 
me that my blunt, honest, good-tempered dog-breaker knew his 
business. I let him take a brace that evening, and in a week he 
had the others. For some years he has broken all my setters 
and pointers, and as long as he can do it I want no better hand. 

It takes a good breaker to make a good dog ; and when you 
have a difficult temper to deal with you want genius as well as 
patience. Two men have this pointer and setter creating 
genius to my knowledge, I mean Bishop and Jim Shave ; and 
Adams, of Wardour Castle, in his day, was perhaps as good as 
either. I have had scores broken by Jim Shave good, bad, 
and indifferent ; but when there was a fault, it was in the dog, 
not in the man. 

1 have seen Bishop's education of a dog ; and I believe 
what can be done with a dog he does. This I said long ago, 
when I recommended a friend of mind to entrust a dog of my 
breeding, and as good as any I ever did breed, to this Scotch 
keeper for a little drill and practice. 

Ever since Jim has broken for me I have taken very little 
trouble with my dogs ; simply they follow me about the road, 
go back with my feeder through the fields to breakfast and 
dinner in squads of four or five, are broken off sheep if they 
incline that way, and are kept clean and well exercised from day 
to da}-. 

If I have a favourite dog, or even a favourite brace, I enter 



THE FIRST OF MAY. 27 

them or finish them ; and (sad as it may sound to those who are 
nice about the law) I even knock down an old cock bird to a 
young novice before the season, rather than spoil his temper by 
disappointment. 

Every year, about the first of May, I go to see the youngsters 
when they are as far completed as may be. and have to wait till 
the end of July for those finishing lessons which are supposed 
to turn them out complete and educated for the hills. 

Passionately fond of the gun, and everything with the name 
of sport. I care nothing for gun or guns unless dogs go with me ; 
and had I the choice of guns and no dogs, or dogs and no guns, 
I at once take the latter conditions, and enjoy the walk. 

So thoroughly do two friends and neighbours share in these 
feelings, that we look forward to this annual holiday, I verily 
believe, for weeks ; and Jim (an enthusiastic lover of the high 
style of shooting) "dree (three) dogs or nothing to see" dates the 
birth of his calves, the marriage of his sons or daughter, the- 
grafting of his apple trees, and, I think, the death of one or two 
relatives, from the " weeks before or after the gentlemen come 
down.'' 

Perhaps in the middle of his breaking, some accident may 
happen to his "fore man" the steady dog which leads the 
youngsters, finds birds for them, and lets them pass him, or 
teaches them to back ; or he wants to consult with me on some 
point where two heads are better than one ; and then we have an 
hour's walk and a bit of breaking, which I much enjoy ; but, for 
my part, I can rely upon my breaker, and when he says he is 
ready for us, we know that there will be something to see. 

Last week I was not surprised at receiving the annual summons, 
and the last first of May we met at the breaker's house. We had 
plenty of time to look over the various pupils chained up in his 
large orchard to kennels, casks, and thatched hurdles, before we 
took out the first team. 

There were good, bad, and indifferent. We unbuckled them 
and went up the hills across the trout stream, to get the wind. 
but " what came of it " I must leave for a future time. 

With what various feelings we look forward to the several 
seasons of the year ! I recollect as a child, and living amongst 
the venerable cloisters of a cathedral citv, I expected with keen 
interest and a musical taste of a certain sort that sonata of tin 
horns which ushered in the 1st of Mav. and waited with impa- 
tience the ballft of the sweeps circling round Jack-in-the-green. 



28 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

A little further on in life, and the 1st of May ushered in the 
bathing season in the Chenvell fields, presided over by young 
Holloway, and in the evenings we sculled to Sandford Lock, or 
'went down in the eight," for the boating season had set in. 
When that time of free pupilage had passed, and Thucydides and 
the rest of them had gone to the hammer (the marginal notes 
and illustrations in these classical volumes were given in), we used 
to go with charming simplicity to see the lilacs in London, and 
join the gaieties of that capital until there was nothing for it but 
the moors. Tired long ago of all these first-named amusements, 
or unfitted for them by the stern decree of Anno Domini. I have 
long ago expected the coming of May Day with an interest cen- 
tred in my next season's team. Savages have no almanacs but 
the pole star, and the moss upon the tree stem tell them north 
from south. I imagine they are not much out in their time of 
year for all that, nor should I be far wrong without the Free- 
mason's Calendar" or -'The Rural Almanac." 

It is an old story that a clerk who looked after his master's 
garden always expected to cut asparagus the day Balaam and 
Balak were read in church, and many a country gardener has his 
operations directed by some as rough criterion. Around me 
cottagers' wives sow Brompton stocks (or what they call " gilly- 
flowers") before the sun is up on Good Friday, to make them come 
double, and cover^ up their peas until the blackthorn is out of 
blossom, or has been white a fortnight. I am rather addicted to 
this rustic calendar, and I have accustomed myself to fix dates by 
things around me. " Snowdrops is out, sir, ' my man has said 
to me more than once (for he knows every notch in my calendar) ; 
" I suppose Jim will soon be coming for the dogs." He does not 
depend, I may remark, upon the wheat being forward enough or 
the clovers deep, for he wants first to let the young ones chase 
and drive, then he has to teach them to range and come to 
whistle, by which time they will have got some sense, and have 
given him many a weary walk, sometimes desponding and at 
others elate, with the hope of showing me something we can talk 
of and compare others with for years to come. 

As Danebury or Woodyate names years after certain winners or 
favourites, my breaker and I have our Robin year, or Tim year, or 
Don year, or Ranger year, or "Young Kent ' ' year, or the year " when 
the gentleman bought Moss and Rhine right out here on the heath, 
sir, you remember, of the captain, whilst they was a pointing, and 
wanted to be off the bargain when the lark got up ;" for I need 



THE FIRST OF MAY. 20 

not say that, with all Jim's care and work, we don't make all 
good, some, as he says, being bad at heart, and there's no use 
denying it." Generally we have a brace or perhaps three, worth 
a monarch's ransom. Often we have one which would be dear at 
no price, and as frequently as not we have " nothing very par- 
ticular." This is my experience. There have been exceptions. 
I once saw five magnificent setters broken of one litter ; all of them 
are still alive, and scattered over the British Islands ; but I never 
before knew of five in one litter turning out super-excellent. 

To proceed with my almanac. When the yellow marigold is 
first in bloom, and the buds of my large westeria are forward, 
and the cowslips cover the meadows, it is time my dogs were 
broken, and I see them gallop annually at about this season. 

Jim Shave would rather walk sixteen miles or make a score of 
wattle hurdles than write one letter ; and a few days before the 
appointed time I am awakened a trifle earlier than usual bv a 
vigorous barking in my kennels. It is without surprise that I 
find, as I go to look through the stable before breakfast, a dog 
chained at every ring of the kennel outer wall, some of whicli I 
know and some I don't ; and close to the last tied up I discover a 
coil of line and a breaker's whip, which proclaim Jim's presence. 
He has probably gone the rounds of the kennels (for he alone of 
all men is intrusted with the keys) to see some of his old favour- 
ites ; and although some of them were broken by him years ago. 
I have never seen a dog forget him. nor have I observed one that 
did not greet him as something more than an old acquaintance. 
So it was this year ; so it always has been ; for he has the knack 
of "gaining the respect of a dog," as an old keeper explained it 
to me, "and unless (he added) you gets this 'ere respect out of 
'em, you'd better throw up the dog altogether." 

"My gooseberry trees are coming into leaf,' is Jim's general 
way of intimating that breaking operations must commence, and 
when the apples are in full blossom, or Mrs. Jim's lilies of the 
valley are blooming and scenting the air, Jim's kennels are 
deserted, and there is silence in the village until July. 

As usual, one morning late in April, I find that Jim has 
walked eight miles to save a penny, besides which it all goes into 
the day's work. For twice eight miles we could walk each way, 
east or west, and find no ground unpreserved, and I think that 
my honest breaker would be welcome to drive the birds out of 
the clover for as many miles at any point of the compass, whether 
he met squire or keeper. Be that as it may, here is Jim and 



30 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

several of Ms pupils, as I said before, and he lias freed them from 
their "puzzle pegs," and allowed them to slake their thirst and 
rest beneath the trees which overshadow my kennel wall. 

The same morning, as he gets his breakfast, I receive a letter 
from my two friends, and we fix the meeting for the 1st of Mav, 
two or three days ahead. A fresh breezy morning succeeding a 
wet night, and a wind south-east, give me hopes of a good scent 
as I drive over to my breaker, and for a part of the morning 
we are not disappointed. Jim shows us several teams, most of 
them broken, but one or two are not, and never will be. " It 
isn't in "em." Jim tells me. and it " can t be put there. ' And 
yet, as I look at one or two of these failures. I can assign no 
reason for it. In appearance there is no lack of blood and 
quality. If I observe any want it is in the intelligence of the 
eye, which looks dull and desponding, and speaks of hard treat- 
ment and the lash, which I am sure they never met with here. 

But it is no great amusement to me to look at this beautiful 
setter, that can't find or touch a scent, or that pointer, with his 
graceful lines, sting-tail, and polished coat, his ears ' like bank 
notes," and his faultless fore legs, if he won't use them, and 
will "only follow and hunt the other dog." ' Let us see a little 
pedigree and performance combined," I remark to Jim, who, after 
a few moments' thought, picks out "four of the best, sir ; ' then, 
touching his hat, says, "This way, gentlemen, if you please, 
and leads us up "The Hill." We climb this steep ascent to 
catch the wind, and, once up it, have a wide fair table-land of 
green corn already waving and rippling in the wind, with here 
and there large plains of clovers, and (down wind some way 
ahead) the yellow flowers of turnips gone to seed look like fine 
" holding " for the birds. 

Patiently we keep away, that we may have a good stretch back 
again, for I need not say to go down wind with dogs is far 
more pernicious than to stay at home. For all that I have seen 
one or two cases where, with a young dog first upon game, it 
answered to let him come upon and flush them down wind, for 
decidedly he was almost overawed by the body scent of the 
partridge if their wind was given him. Let that be how it may. 
we went to get the wind all Jim's team, which I shall not 
particularise, following him as patiently and apathetically as 
so many colley dogs, which spring to life and action when they 
get the signal from the shepherd, and are passionless before. 

At length we reach the confines of a wood or covert, dotted 



THE FIRST OF MAY. 31 

oaks about forty or fifty years old, where the underwood 
was of about a year's growth, and some twenty acres had been 
cut in the past winter. "If you will stand here, gentlemen," 
said Jim, ' I will work round to you;" and as on these 
occasions to hear is to obey, so we leant on the old grey field 
gate, as Jim hunted his dogs down the decline in front of us. 

Directly he waved his hand to cast them off, they sprang away 
right and left of him like greyhounds, but, young as they were, they 
did not go wide, only about what might be called enough ground 
for three guns. They were all high rangers, and, as I am given 
to understand, the offspring of one kennel. When I call them 
high rangers, let me observe that no other dog suits me : that 
not only does low ranging show an inclination to potter, but that 
I believe it induces it. High ranging is as much a gift as high or 
grand action : and though a puzzle peg may improve bad rangers, 
it won't make good ones, any more than magnifying glasses, 
which they say the Germans fix on the eyes of their chargers, 
will make them step up when applied in England. I expect this 
story of the magnifying glasses to be about as correct as that of 
the green glasses the miser put upon his ass to make him eat 
shavings instead of grass. 

I saw the team cross each other independently, and their stems 
going as Jim walked on. Gradually as he turned in a line with 
the covert we lost sight of him, and I had time to notice the 
beauties of the wood by the side of which he posted us. 

What a variety of colour ! The young oak shoots growing 
from old mossy stools were a rich brown, not green at all. In 
patches, the blue hyacinths looked like a carpet. Here and there 
were spots of pink, caused by the bachelor's buttons in full 
bloom, and relieved by pieces of the freshest verdure, where the 
green spurge shot up. Further on were the ash-coloured stems 
of beeches, then thick underwood, and a number of chesnuts 
nearly in full leaf and certainly in full blossom ; and two or 
more nightingales, for which these parts are famous, were having 
a little concert to themselves, and practising that deft ventrilo- 
quism which I never observed in any others of the feathered tribe. 

I had time to make these observations when I turned to see 
what had become of Jim, and my companion on the right, 
touching rny arm, pointed out to me one of the team backing a 
pointer which had got the scent, who was standing in grand form 
below us. 

Jim was standing with affected unconcern, but taking a glance 



32 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

with his solitary eye first at one and then another of his pupils, 
and, as it seemed to me, quite at his ease, and confident that not 
one of them would "break."' 

You seldom, if ever, get such fine attitude in the backing as 
in the pointing dog. He who backs has none of the pleasure 
which appears to animate the keen-nosed pointer. To him it 
would seem a delightful sensation to inhale the bod}- scent of the 
bird, and one which, in a foot scent, animates hound or spaniel, 
because he hopes to overtake and kill. 

This pleasure the backing dog wants, and we see it in his 
posture. At first there is an air of inquiry about him. He 
stops, or is stopped by degrees, as he approaches the dog which 
has the point, or he learns it by being permitted to run on until 
he settles the matter by experience. Very soon the slightest 
gesture on his breaker's part gives him the cue, and, presto ! he 
is cataleptic, or (though not so good) he drops, gazing upon the 
dog that winds the birds with suppressed envy. 

Thus in backing we see the stern not so grandly held, and 
most likely trembling excitement restrained by discipline, and the 
training, let me say, of a sweet disposition and refined intelli- 
gence. If you want an example of self denial, obedience, self- 
sacrifice, and amiability, you have it in the backing dog. He is 
an amiable loser, and deserves consideration quite as much as 
that lucky dog who has won the game ! 

After standing, perhaps, five minutes, and making sure the 
dogs were firm, Jim walked on and put up the pair, when his 
team dropped, all but one, and as Jim approached him he fell 
too. That dog got a word or two of caution, the rest were 
simply commended in a few sentences, and Jim waved them up. 
Hullo ! before they are well on their legs one stands stiff as a 
midshipman, and two eye him and stop ; the other does not see, 
and has turned for his first sweep across again, when his eye falls 
upon his three kennel friends, and he stops, too. 

A hare bolts right through them at that moment, and Jim 
looks anxious, especially at the dog furthest away, who has 
evidently a great deal of dash about him ; but, to Jim's delight 
and glory, he drops, although, for that matter, he turns his head 
and eye after puss as she skips away, and once or twice stops 
provokingly before she pops through the hedge, as though she 
would challenge the best of the team to a trial of speed or a 
slight flirtation with fur. This time Jim goes to each of them, 
and reads a severe homily to them individually on the sin of 



THE FIRST OF MAY. 33 

chasing. " War hare ! will you ! War hare ! Very well ! War 
hare ! " and when he reached the last, who rolled over on his 
back as Jim got upon him, I was rather sorry to see that 
appeal for mercy made in vain, for Jim give him two or three 
decided, quick, sharp, cuts, which, however, called forth no sound 
whatever. 

Coming back to me before he let them up, he apologised for 
or explained his severity : " He knows what it's for, sir. He 
wants to chase, and we've had several quarrels lately. I see 
him turn his head, and for the next four or five hares I flogs 
him whether he chases or not, until he can't bear the sight of 
one." 

Not disputing Jim's authority, nor provoking discussion (for 
flogging a dog always can be backed by sound arguments), I 
told Jim to let us have one more find, and then to fetch another 
set out. I could see pretty nearly enough of these, and I wish 
I had them now as my aides de camp for the moors, but I shall 
not. 

Before we dropped into the bottom, where the trout stream 
ran, we found again, the three dogs close together, and the fourth 
away some distance. After a good spring and drop, Jim let 
them have a bath in the running water, shake themselves, and 
follow him home. 

The two brace we next saw were only mediocre dogs ; no tail 
action ; heads low, and the pace indifferent ; but they were as 
well broken as such cattle could be. "Fit," as Jim said, "for 
an old gentleman to puddle about with," but no use for the 
moors. 

" Why." said Jim, " a gipsy could boil a kettle and steal the 
wood, whilst they go across a ten-acre field." And I need not 
say we soon saw enough of these. 

"And who do these dogs belong to, Jim ? " I said. But Jim 
did not seem to hear. I therefore repeated the question, and Jim 
replied, 

" A foreign gentleman, sir ; and I hope he'll like 'em, for I 
don't. But there " (he went on), " they know as much about 
good dogs as we do, they tell me, and actually have English 
keepers to keep 'em straight ! I know." he said, " you would 
soon see enough of these ; " and as he spoke one found, and 
stood looking as depressed and gloomy as though fnnling game were 
a melancholy affair, and only fit for misanthropes. "There." 
said Jim, " there they be ! head down, tail down, like a under- 



34 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

taker and three mutes ; only wants the bell a tolling, and you'd 
be a pretty picture, you would." This, however, was not in a 
tone of voice to dispirit these black pointers, one of which 
would not keep his tail steady, and seemed to be marvellously 
suspicious of his funereal brother. Jim soon cut short this 
appalling spectacle, and put up the birds, when the sable quartet 
dropped like automatons, but evidently were ignorant of the 
design their breaker had in thus drilling them, and might have 
considered it a sort of rehearsal of the funeral rites to sink into 
their graves. 

At this crisis Jim's son appeared with five which Jim called 
"middling." "This (he continued), must end it for to-day, if 
you please, gentlemen ; " and we again broke ground. 

Hitherto we had not got over fifty acres perhaps not twenty, 
for I am a bad judge of space and we came to some good deep 
clover, the wind in our teeth, and the air cooler. A few drops 
fell and just sparkled on the grass as we began to beat this 
ground, and the scent must have been brilliant, I know. Not 
one of these dogs hunted another, but as each turned I saw that 
he gave a wistful glance at what was going on, as though he 
knew he was but one of a company, and not to do as he would. 

I was looking on the ground and did not see this find, there- 
fore I had got two paces in front of my companions when I 
observed one of the five almost close to my feet, and in grand 
attitude, close behind a bitch, with her mouth drawn a little 
aside; behind her, her brother "backed," shaking like a leaf, but 
stiff, and two dogs at the extreme distance of the field, were per- 
fectly rigid and firm. One I thought was very grand indeed for a 
backing dog, standing upon tip-toe and making the most of him- 
self ; although but a moderate size he looked quite fine and large. 

Jim gave us time to see the point, and then put up the birds, 
and the three I first named dropped ; but Jim's monitory signals 
failed to drop the other brace, which we now saw at the same 
instant must have found another pair. So Jim walked on, 
leaving his three pointers down, and we went with him. In a few 
moments we were near enough to notice the birds running before 
us, and close to the young dog, who followed the direction of 
his game with his head and eye, and gradually settled on his 
haunches, but then stood again. His companion lifted one foot, 
and meant to creep, until Jim's voice brought her up firm again, 
and then he stood and cautioned her against any such heretical 
proceedings for the future. 



THE FIRST OF MAY. 35 

As the birds made for the hedge, I went and sprung them for 
Jim, and he took the dogs away ; for, as he says and I agree 
with him nothing so destroys the range of dogs as a desire to 
poke into hedges, or is so likely to create a love of rabbits. One 
more grand find as we cross the wheat, and then another, each of 
the dogs getting it and seeming to me level in pace, and nose, 
and temper. One of them, however, I observe has a coil of 
chain round his neck I should say three fathoms but he held 
his own, and delighted me with his perseverance. 

"Whose dog is that, Jim?" "Why, sir, it's a dog named 
Sauce, and I think it's the best dog of all my lot." 

When the sundew was in flower and the yellow hawkweed, and 
when the starwort or blue chamomile blossomed, and the white 
lilies were floating on our lake, Jim brought down his team to run 
about our heath, and Sauce performed again ; this time with such 
effect that a friend of mine bought him (chains and all) and has 
him now. We called that year the Sauce year, and it's a good 
dog that bears comparison with the Admiral's Sauce, as he would 
tell you if you asked him. 



D 2 



3C THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER IV. 
"STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL." 

NOTHING is considered complete and well done amongst my 
countrymen without a dinner ; and, after a walk with a breaker 
in hard condition, who has been training for six or eight weeks 
about as many hours a day, none of us are very squeamish as to 
the quality of the viands, provided the materials of the repast 
are clean and wholesome. Indeed, the crisp but succulent 
flavour of that home-baked bread, the roast leg of mutton and 
cauliflowers, in which we rival Cornwall, with an appetite and 
zest produced by meeting the fresh May breeze and climbing 
those green hills which surround my breaker's freehold cottage, 
have more charms for me than a far better dinner and the 
attendance of stately waiters, who resemble beneficed clergymen 
(at " Willis his rooms " let us say), with Willis in proprid persona 
silently inspecting the arrangements, as he moves spectrally and 
silently behind my chair. 

So, annually we have a dinner after our inspection of the young 
dogs on the first of May. and, when the cloth has been removed, 
Jem, who has been dining with the coachman who periodically 
drives his master to this solemn ordeal, or perhaps balancing the 
table with his presence opposite to me, takes his usual two 
glasses of bran dy-and- water, and relaxes from that silence and 
solemnity which so well befit him in the field. 

He is never mysterious as to dogs of his own with any stranger 
who comes to him commercially, at the same time that he is a 
man of few words. I have known him to possess dogs it would 
be very hard to match, but he would never describe them as 
more than "middling;" adding as a rider to this statement, 
" The best proof, sir, is, if you like the looks of him, to see him 
out." 

With one of these highly-gifted performers, he would thoroughly 
enjoy himself, and as the dog stood or backed I have known him, 
led on by the enthusiasm of the moment, put the question to 
his customer : "Do you think that will do, sir? Can any gentle- 



" STEICTLY CONFIDENTIAL'" 37 

man wish for anything stiddier or grander than that, sir ?" 
Generally, however, he is taciturn to a fault, and keenly alive to 
want of system in hunting, style in going, keen nose, or staunch- 
ness. Stiffness of stern, and his hackles up, and a frown on his 
/ace that is Jem's idea of a point ; and going with the head 
well up, and lashing his ribs with his stern, is Jem's idea of 
style. 

A casual visitor, as I have said, would hear very little from 
Jem. and his replies to our observations are made with a touch 
of the hat and cheerful acquiescence, or a firm but courteous 
negation, in which the hat symbol of duty is not omitted. 

After dinner, and in the middle of his first glass of brandy- 
and-water, Jem relaxes. True he turns his solitary eye to the door, 
and if it is ajar he carefully closes it before he unburthens himself 
of the fact that " That young dog, sir begging your pardon I 
hope you'll tell your man, sir, he mustn't have no whip, and beg 
him to be sure not to huff him ;" or he may express his fears that 
that other one won't have hunt enough, and goes with no 
" sperrit ; " and once I considered him quite stubborn about as 
good a bitch as I ever had or ever shall. The rock we split on 
was style. "No style, sir." "Well, but Jem, did you ever see 
a setter so quick, or with such a knack of finding ? Here is this 
bitch finding every bird, and your grand stylish dogs backing 
her ; then you put one of her legs in her collar, and she beats 
them still ; you give her the wind, and she hops on her three 
legs straight up to her game! '' and to this Jem agreed ; but he 
added, "A curious-tempered thing, and a snake" (sneak). So 
she was, but as a finder Jem never had her equal, and, in my 
opinion, he never will. 

He calls to his aid some of the old ones, after whom we named 
the year. " You remember Bob, sir, that fallow dog ? That 
was the dog ! And Robin, sir him the navy captain took to sea 
for two years, and when he came home the gentleman at Liver- 
pool gave him thirty guineas for him ?" Then there was this 
pointer, and that setter, and the other ; but Jem would not allow 
anything in favour of lUiine the snake. 

" And what do you think," one of our party said ' what do 
you think of Droppers, Jem ?" 

'Very good dogs some of 'em, sir," Jem replied readily; 
"but" and here he stopped until the landlady retired, on 
bringing in his second glass " but," Jem continued, after trying 
the door, " you can t breed from 'em, and so if you have a first- 



38 THE ID8TONE PAPEES. 

rate dog you only have him, and can't get a succession ; and 
then," said he, his eye still on the door, that none of his oracles 
might ventilate, " then they ain't gentleman's dogs ; and any- 
thing but true-bred dogs," pursued Jeni, as he moved away his 
glass with an impatient gesture, " anything like mongrels, good 
or bad, I can't abide. If I don't like a dog, however much I try 
to hide it, the dog finds it out, and he don't like me, and we 
don't try to please each other. Some dogs," said Jem, " I have 
pretty near parted from with the tears standing in my eyes, as I 
shook hands with 'em and put 'em in the train ; but they was all 
well-bred ones. The greatest trouble I have is with dogs that 
won't hunt. I can't love 'em, and it's no use to waste my time 
with them. If a dog looks fat after I've had him three weeks, 
depend upon it he is a unprofitable servant." 

" And what do you like me to do with my young dogs before I 
send them to you, Jem ?" 

"Nothing at all, sir," replied he, " except exercise. Whatever 
you do, don't let them hunt hedges, and don't try to break them; 
anyhow, only get them to come to whistle. No down charge, no 
nothing. I recollect some fifteen or twenty years ago a gentle- 
man from Manchester wrote to me to take his dogs, and I agreed 
to do it ; and so he sent the dogs and their names. Nice dogs 
they was, and they had the queerest names you ever heard ! It's 
a fact, this is, and the gentleman's name was well," Jem said, 
after rubbing his head thoughtfully, " I forget his name, but he 
had something to do with cotton, and I remember he sent a lot 
of calico prints to my missus to make the children frocks, and so 
on. However, he called one dog Mule Twist, and another Jute, 
and a white one was called Cotton, and he wanted to call the 
best of the lot Shirtings, but I didn't I called him Twist : that 
is, I give him half the first dog's name. 

" Well, they was rattling good dogs ; but I thought I never 
should have done nothing with 'em, for you see he'd been 
a-breaking them hisself, with tame partridges put into a round 
wire rat-trap under cabbage leaves in his gardens, and all sorts of 
capers, and they were always looking for my whip and hand. 

" Twist (the one he called Shirtings) always would creep a bit, 
else he was a good dog, he was ; and Mule he was the finest of 
the lot ; and Jute he was very steady, he was ; and Cotton, the 
white dog, he'd stand for two hours, Well, after a deal of 
labour, I got 'em to this, and sent 'em back, and the gentleman 
he sent me ten pounds and a lot of this printed calico into the 



"STBICTLY CONFIDENTIAL." 39 

bargain, and he said ' he had clipped his tame partridge's wings, 
and had given the dogs the wind (as per your advice of yesterday) 
and let them find them amongst the strawberries, and they per- 
formed as follows : Shirtings,' he says, ' advancing, Mule Twist 
held firmly, Jute quiet, Cotton firm.' 

" This was the funniest letter I ever had about dogs," said 
Jem, " except one I had this morning. Perhaps " (Jem said) 
"you'll read it, Mr. Idstone." 

" With pleasure, Jem : 

Birmingham, April 29. 

Sir, Your favour just received. I am glad the dog has turned out well, 
and a gentleman baa purchased him from your description. I beg to 
inclose cheque. I have done fairly with him, having received in exchange 
24^ gross of best black japanned coffin plates !" 

" Oh !" Jem added, when we had done laughing at this singular 
idea of a bargain, " I've had all sorts of things offered me for 
dogs ash poles for sheep cribs, and a summer's run for a cow ; 
and once I had thirteen Cochin China eggs, and a new great coat, 
and four pound ten offered me for a dog, by a gentleman as come 
from Whitechapel in London. Is there much game there, sir ? " 

"Did the gentleman have the dog, Jem?" 

" Yes, sir, but because the dog wouldn't run hares, he wanted 
the great coat back again ; but he never had it." 

Our old acquaintance then began to enumerate the breaker's 
grievances : Dogs sent as untried which know the check-cord and 
puzzle-peg as well as their breaker ; these dogs, if represented as 
unbroken, Jem sends back at once. Others sent to be " made," 
which have hunted every street in a city until they are two or 
three years old, having a wholesome dread of boys and stones. 
Sheep biters, and now and then resolute dogs which no power 
on earth can prevent from running wide, and which pay as little 
attention to a whistle as a hare. Dogs with .wide thin-soled feet, 
or tied in their shoulders, "with no gallop in them." Others 
that go with drooping flag and nose on the ground, and are only 
fit to follow a hearse. Some with no nose, no taste for game ; 
and that loose, flabby, slack-loined lymphatic animal which is a 
delicate feeder, with no energy or spirit, and which no physic 
will put right, unless it be the water cure say the Cheltenham 
waters for ten minutes, a foot above their heads. 

" But," said Jem, cheering up a bit, " a nice fresh warm rain, 
and good deep laying, and a brace of cheerful, active, sensible 
young ones that don't regard punishment, and plenty of birds 



40 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

and I forget all my troubles, and go to work with a good 
heart." 

A sturdy, honest love of truth is one of the sterling qualities 
of my 'old breaker. No disguising faults, no varnished state- 
ments, no shirking work and excuses after it. If the dog fails it 
is not his fault ; and no man is more discriminating with the 
whip. 

"Nothing spoils the dog like that," Jem tells me, as he tele- 
graphs with a Burleigh nod to his old whip, which lies upon the 
sideboard, close to two china dogs and a knife-case which probably 
gave Mr. Mechi his first hint for making a cabinet for envelopes. 

'You want," he says, "a light whip for a thin-skinned 
pointer, and a heavy one for thick-coated setters, and you want 
the gifts to use them. First make the dog understand where he 
has done wrong, and then see how much he will bear. Many a 
dog is ruined with one flogging, and many are ruined for want of 
one. I deliver my dogs steady, and never overlook a fault ; at 
any rate, I talk to them about it, and take my time. Perhaps the 
new owner don't know or don't care, and the dog ' trains off ' to 
nothing, and then I get the blame. I like to let the gentlemen 
see them when I take them home in May, and again in July or 
August, and to work the dogs the first day they shoot over them. 
If they knock down the birds and leave the dogs to me, there is 
no more trouble ; and if there is, they must have the blame 
between them. 

" Well, Jem, we will come over and see you give your finishing 
lessons if we can ; at any rate, will you promise us to come out 
with us the first week in September and work the dogs ? " To 
this Jem civilly agreed, and as his second glass of brandy-and- 
water was finished, our horses were brought round to the porch, 
and we dissolved the meeting. 

" You won't mention anything I've said, gentlemen ? " said 
Jem, as he picked up his whip and hat. 

" Certainly not." 



SHOOTING DRESS. 41 



PAPER V. 

SHOOTING DRESS. 

ALTHOUGH reports of grouse disease are very prevalent, I doubt 
not most of us are already thinking seriously of our annual migra- 
tion to Norway, Ireland, or the North, hoping by great good luck, 
superior generalship, hard work, excellent dogs, or all of these 
means, to get a fair month s sport. The Wizard of the North 
never fails to attract a full company ; and, as I am told, the 
London gunrnakers are almost overdone with orders. I went 
into two or three of the principal emporia for breech-loaders the 
other day, and found that these cunning craftsmen had a busy 
time of it. Stacks of gun cases reclined against the walls of 
their shops, branded with the accustomed and some new names ; 
and guns in every stage of manufacture some " in the rough," 
others far more advanced, and a few engraved, browned, and com- 
plete were awaiting the inspection of their respective owners. 
One of the fraternity handing me a very masterpiece of art, a 
snap-action treble-grip central-fire gun, which he saw had great 
attractions for me, whilst he reached the "sister gun," as he 
called it, with his other hand, remarked, " That pair of guns 
has been ready for this three months I should say, and Lord 
never puts off his orders. T'll be bound that he has every- 
thing ready, from his hat to his boots ; and he always has." 

I was set thinking of the various things required for an 
August migration by this gunmaker's observation, and especially 
with regard to clothes. I know very well that there are lucky 
members of society who are always ready for the North after 
putting off their orders to the last moment ; who, on all 
occasions, get their railway ticket in the nick of time, jump into 
their seat as the train moves on, perhaps as the guard whistles, 
and think it a clever thing to do. But these hurried movements 
and late orders are most perilous and inconvenient to purchaser 
and vendor, frequently resulting in annoyance, inconvenience, or 
disappointment. 

A tight hat, or a loose one that blows off ; a pair of boots that 



42 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

won't go on. or that pinch the instep, or press a favourite corn ; a 
coat that chafes or wrinkles ; gaiters or leggings that won't meet ; 
a whistle that won't rattle ; a gun too straight, too much bent, too 
long, too short all these little vexations may crowd themselves 
upon you. far beyond the reach of railways, gunmakers, tailors, 
or bootmakers, and it is just as well to ensure your comfort and 
to have your outfit complete a week, or even a month, before you 
book yourself by the Great Northern, or swing from your moorings 
at "the Wight," 

Old Osbaldeston used to say, " Hang deliberation ; it's only a 
long name for craning at a fence, and going round for a gap or a 
gate." But, as far as shooting goes, if you are deliberate you are 
"all there." 

Some years ago I got an unexpected sudden summons to 
Perthshire. It was something stronger than an invitation, so I 
call it a " summons," and there was no time for making ready. 

The party had assembled (it was about the fifteenth), and it 
was not possible that they could keep the best beats for me. 
"You need not bring a dog," my friend said, "we have plenty 
here ; " so I thrust what clothes I thought necessary into a port- 
manteau, filled a leather bag with boots and gaiters, rushed to 
the metropolis, took the first Hansom I could see, of course got 
a spavined horse, caught the train on the post, and landed myself 
at Perth accordingly. 

It was a weary journey, and it always is, especially if you have 
long legs, and are subject, as I am, to the cramp ; and, to make 
matters worse, the train was full all the way to Carlisle, whilst 
opposite to me sat a plethoric old gentleman, his wife's dressing 
case for a footstool, forming an effectual barricade to his half of 
the conveyance ; and he made matters worse by periodically 
refreshing himself with the breasts of cold chickens, French 
rolls, and pale sherry, whilst I starved in the corner. As he 
threw the bones of the first chicken out of window, I began to 
reckon up my " traps." There were no breechloaders in those 
days, and I was pretty sure that I had forgotten my loading rod 
one constructed to shut in two, with a joint like the stick of a 
parasol, and which, therefore, never got between your legs like a 
court sword. I could recollect now, as we whirled along, and 
got a little vertical vibration the train was about forty minutes 
late I could recollect that I left it, case and all, on the sill of 
the study window ; and, worse than that, although I had my 
double gun case, I had put but one gun in it. The last straw 



SHOOTING DBES8. 43 

that broke the camel's back had still to be laid on, for it came to 
pass next day that I discovered the stock of No. 1, but the 
barrels of No. 2. As they were not sisters, only cousins, they 
did not naturally fit, and therefore I had to shoot for five or 
six days with a borrowed gun. which killed well enough when it 
would go off ; this was the exception, not the rule. 

I don't know what my old acquaintance would have said about 
" deliberation " as regards preparing for the North, when he 
found himself, as I did, with a pair of odd gaiters both right, 
but in one sense only ; or whether he would have thrown him- 
self "into the joke and enjoyed it, had he heard, as I did, the 
Scotch keeper asking in his native brogue, as he held up the said 
gaiters derisively, " whether the gentleman who came last night 
had only one leg or two." Certainly the little miseries I 
brought upon myself by my precipitate flight from home were 
lessons to me, not for the first, nor do I think even the hundredth 
time. 

You may think that all this has little or nothing to do with 
shooting dress, but it has all to do with it. There was nothing 
exactly right ; boots, hat, under-clothing, coat, all more or less 
wrong. 

I don t mean to inflict a repetition of these troubles upon the 
public ; but my misfortunes shall be the text of a homily upon 
dress for the moors, and the home shooting from hot September 
to the frost and snow of Christmas. 

I looked over some old engravings the other day, representing 
the sportsman of 1793, and gradually bringing me to within a per- 
fect remembrance of those sportsmen who preceded me. 

In 17D.'3 the coat was tolerably comfortable, I should say 
short in the skirt, loose in the sleeve, rather grotesque when you 
come to the collar, which looked more suitable for the neck of a 
cart-horse than a Christian. The nether garments consisted of 
breeches, white stockings, shoes, and short gaiters, which left the 
calf of the leg exposed after the manner of the Pickwicks. The 
"hat of the period" was like the soft wideawake adopted by 
invalid or overworked clergymen at the seaside, high in the 
crown, large in the brim, and flaccid. It gave a sombre and 
pious air to the most pious "varmint" examples of the day; 
and the old original Mr. Tattersall, who is painted in such a 
headdress, appears more than semi-clerical, in spite of the merry 
twinkle of his eye. It was by no means unusual to walk the 
stubbles in top boots ; and what we now associate with the 



44 THE IDSTONE PAPEE8. 

turf or the covert side was the get-up universally for pigeon 
shooting. 

From this date to 1815 the hat began gradually to assume its 
stiff, hideous proportion ; and although Abraham Cooper's well- 
known picture of a sportsman on his pony, called " The First of 
September," represents him as wearing a soft hat of much more 
graceful outline than the best that Andre or Lincoln and Bennett 
possesses, we may infer that by that time the rigid " chimney- 
pot " obtained in most circles. 

From about 1822 to 1847, or thereabouts, few soft felt hats 
were worn, except by the lower orders, and it was at the latter 
date considered infra dig. in a professional man to shade his 
brows one inch more than the letter of fashion allowed, or to put 
on a covering containing in its fabric one ounce less of glue, 
shellac, or stiffening than of yore. 

In 1825, I observe a picture by Cooper of a pheasant-shooting 
party, where the single gun is exchanged for a double, where 
the hat is more easy and useful, the coat more like a shooting 
jacket, and the legs are protected from the thigh to the calf of 
the leg with gaiters, the lower part of the leg and foot being 
encased in boots. In covert, or " outside the palings," this 
dress would suit one, and at the present time it could scarcely 
be improved, except in material. There were no Scotch tweeds 
then. 

I plunge at once into my subject after fencing with it so far, 
and I determine to begin with the hat. 

I can only say from experience that in August and September 
there is nothing better than straw. A straw hat, if it is a good 
one, is better than any other. I confess that it is not without its 
defects, or rather its one defect. It is not a protection against 
rain. In all other points can you tell me anything that will 
equal it ? If you get a good one (which you can do by going to a 
good maker), it will last you two or possibly three years, after 
being annually cleaned, lined afresh, and stiffened, at the cost of 
eighteenpence ; and if I get one I like I am very char} 7 of getting 
rid of it. The black-and-white answer best. They don't get 
brown like the unstained ones, and don't attract the sun like 
a self colour. They should have nothing thicker than gauze 
for lining, and a ring of flannel or serge where it touches the 
head. 

In a broiling day you may get a young cabbage leaf tacked 
inside the crown ; and if you forget this comfortable arrangement 



SHOOTING DEESS. 45 

you can put a handful of grass instead. The brim should not be 
more than 2^in. wide, and I seldom have mine over 2in. If the 
straw is moderately coarse the wind will not affect this margin, 
and the eyes will be thoroughly protected. 

The crown should be 3in. exactly. This allows enough circu- 
lation above the head, and is not acted upon by the wind. I 
have been out in very heavy rains with such a hat, and have 
experienced very little inconvenience from the percolating of the 
water ; and as soon as the storm passed away I gave my hat a 
shake, and felt no inconvenience. 

If you don't like a straw, you have to choose between two evils 
the soft wide-awake and the hard one. 

The soft one is by far the most comfortable for the open, 
provided there is no wind ; but when there is even a breeze, if 
the brim is a couple of inches too wide, you are always put out by 
its flapping in your face. As these soft brims are made to turn 
up, you can't very well shear them down without making your- 
self "an objec'," otherwise a sewing-machine and a pair of 
scissors would put all right. These soft hats do not attract the 
sun so much as the stiff ones, even if they are black : and we 
have our choice from white to brown or grey. White are too 
great a contrast to the heather : and for fishing, which goes hand 
in hand with the gun in Scotland, a white hat is most objection- 
able. Well, certainly, it is advisable to have as few traps as 
possible on our expeditions, and it would be well that a hat 
should answer all purposes if possible : suppose we say neutral 
grey or lavender is the best colour of all. 

For covert, the stiff, hard hat will do, as the brims slip 
through the underwood ; and, though objectionable in the sun. 
they are cool enough beneath the leaf in October, or when the 
heat of summer is past. Yet I prefer much the soft skull and 
stiff brims ; and I have worn them with great comfort even in 
September. 

"Coats for the moors," "suits for the moors," "heather 
mixtures," "grousings," and various materials, are advertised all 
the year round. All of them, perhaps, are good in their way ; 
possibly, and more probably, they are good, bad, and indifferent. 
You must remember as you go North you don't take the English 
climate with you ; and if you did, it is so variable that you 
would do well to take clothes suited to all weathers. You must 
be prepared for chilly mountain rains, damps, and fogs, and all 
varieties of climate and temperature. In a general way you may 



46 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

expect great heat and some wet more rain in proportion to the 
hot weather than you experience in England. 

You want for the moors and hills something flexible, soft, 
strong, and elastic, and not too thin. There is nothing better 
than tweed, so far as I know. The flax coats absorb the rain, 
become very heavy, are a long time drying, and when damp 
they are very cold and chilly. They will do for covert in dry 
days, as they resist thorns ; but even then I should prefer strong 
tweed. 

In the old days he possessed the best coat for shooting who 
could boast of most pockets ; now few pockets are required. 
Formerly the crack shots, such as the late Lord Mexborough, 
Osbaldeston, or the forgotten Colonel Thornton, wore Quaker 
collars to their shooting coats, thinking the roll collar in the way 
of the gun ; but " we know better " this was all affectation. 

The loading rod was frequently suspended through a pipe 
attached to a belt which crossed the back on one side, whilst the 
shot pouch crossed the other shoulder. The right-hand upper 
pocket held wadding, the lower pocket the flask unless it was 
in the left inner breast-pocket, close to the lighted cigar or pipe 
bowl, as I have seen it and the other pockets were encumbered 
with nipple wrenches, screwdrivers, and the general repertoire of 
an amateur armourer. 

Now you have not forty or fifty times a day to expose your 
fingers to the explosion of a gun, whilst the action and mechanism 
are simplified to the last degree. You therefore require simply 
an easy garment that does not confine your shoulders, and which 
is loose under the arms ; moderately close fitting at the wrists 
and along the forearm, or perhaps an unsightly wrinkle may start 
up between you and your aim ; and, above all things, a skirt not 
too long. Any of the admirable Scotch mixtures will do, if not 
too much pronounced in colour ; and it is well that hat, tie, coat, 
and the whole dress should be to a certain extent " matching." 
The general tone of a partridge or of the egg of a pheasant, 
perhaps a little greyer, is as good as any ; but anything which is like 
the heather will do. The "three-seam" coat is the most cool, and 
at the same time the best protection from rain ; and it is as well 
to have the fabric waterproofed, because this is a guarantee that 
it has been shrunk. Waterproofed or not, the rain is sure to find 
its way into the seams, especially the seams of the sleeves. 

I think we shall be pretty well agreed as to knickerbockers. 
They are the most comfortable garments possible for stalking or 



SHOOTING DEES8. 47 

grouse. In the first case, the fold at the knee is a great pro- 
tection, and they do not chafe like other garments. Knee- 
breeches are not only hideous in appearance (except in the 
saddle), but they are close fitting and uneasy things to walk in, 
and are now very properly exploded. Shetland stockings and (if 
required) a leather gaiter will render a grouse shooter indepen- 
dent of any covert he will meet with, or ought to meet with, if 
(as I shall soon ask him) he is well shod. 

Before I go so far, we will consider the best way in which 
these knickerbockers can be retained in their place ; and I must 
say that I think, for a long day, and to get the free use of your 
arms, there is nothing like getting rid of your braces. A few 
loops (two before and three behind), through which a leather 
strap will pass to buckle in front, will answer well. You say that 
this will cut your hips, but it will not. The strap should not 
be less than an inch and a half wide, and the portion which goes 
over each hip should be sewn together, and stuffed with some 
soft material. I have found a roll of chamois leather the best 
thing. This method is not only advantageous, as it takes a load 
from the shoulders, but it admits, by having a swivel or two on it 
or a blunt hook or two, of your carrying a bird or two until you 
meet your man, or of your attaching a flask of brandy or a sand- 
wich case to you in a most convenient way. 

Buttoned gaiters are the most trustworthy, but they are tedious 
to put on, and are, when wet, difficult to take off. I have of 
late years patronised those which close with a spring, and I have 
never found them otherwise than serviceable. If you use leather 
ones, those made of" hide'' are better than sheepskin for keeping 
out the wet, but they do not allow of ventilation. A far better 
gaiter is made now of canvas strapped behind with leather. It 
resists thorns and it is porous, If you desire to protect the knee 
and thigh from thorns, it will be best to have this upper legging 
in a separate piece. 

As to boots, every man who shoots has some plan or model or 
make of his own ; but I think we almost all of us take refuge in 
the lace-up boots at last. With many modifications, this is cer- 
tainly the shooting boot, and there is none other. It ought not 
to be hard to get a good one, but it is. 1 advise any man who 
is hard to fit, which I am not, to get a " last " made, and he 
will surmount much of the difficulty. Then you will say he 
wants good leather and good workmanship. So he does ; and 
first as to leather. I used to have my shooting boots made of 



48 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

what are known in tlie trade as " kips " the skins of animals 
which have died a natural death. But the boots were always 
hard, and for tender feet (which mine are not) they won't do. 
If you want watertight boots, you must have them made of cow- 
hide, or of two leathers, having between them a bladder or a thin 
skin of gutta-percha. Boot-makers will tell you they can keep 
out the wet. I never could get a pair of boots which kept it out 
for long. I have tried various compositions ; the best was made 
by a man of the name of Jones, who used to attend the various 
cattle shows with his tins of this material ; and I have now used 
it for several years with complete success. 

The form of boot I have described. Well, it should have 
a toe-cap and it should fit you : but it should be wider than 
your usual walking-boot, and thick in the soul to receive the 
hobnails, which are placed about three-quarters of an inch apart 
all over the sole, including " the waist," so that you don't slip 
as you spring at a bank or get over a gate or stile. These hob- 
nails should be of wrought iron, and of the sort called " star 
hobs " 1000 of them should weigh 31b. Years ago 1 used to 
get hob nails of either gun metal or bell metal, I forget which. 
They wore well and did not rust when laid aside, and so rot the 
leather. I think these nails were made in Belgium. 

I have thought that leather dressed with the hair side oiitside 
kept out the water better than when dressed in the usual way ; 
but these boots cut and scratch with the thorns, and presently 
become very shabby and defaced. 

A man living in town, and accustomed to thin boots, will do 
well to shoot in the lightest boots which will stand the work. 
For my part, I like strong ones and a thick sole. To attempt to 
walk all day in new ones is a very rash proceeding ; it is advis- 
able to get accustomed to them by degrees. I make it a practice 
to wear all which are destined for winter service without the 
hobnails until they are thoroughly easy, and, as my man calls it, 
"broken in." I then have them nailed ready for work, and 
have only to assure myself that they have no projecting points 
within. It is well to have what shoemakers call a " beak-iron " 
to beat down these points, if you live at a distance from the 
" cordwainer," otherwise you may be very much inconvenienced 
or permanently injured. 

Nothing is so tedious, you must bear in mind, as a chafed or 
galled heel. If you are not careful you are sure to get one, partly 
from chafing, but also from want of condition. 



SHOOTING DEESS. 49 

If you can get boots made like Wellingtons to meet the 
knickerbockers, and do not tread them over at heel, you will find 
nothing more enduring or convenient ; for, though lacing boots 
is to me no trouble or inconvenience, many dislike the task. 

There is no better way of fastening the lace than by giving it 
a single hitch ; and if you burn the end of the lace slightly in the 
flame of a candle, you will want no "tag." 

For a jersey, if needed, there is nothing like silk. Winter or 
summer, hot or cold, wet or dry, I have found it so ; and they are 
economical as well, if that is an object, for they hardly ever wear 
out. I need hardly say flannel shirts, the thinner the better, and 
as soft possible. 

Three things more straight powder, unfermented liquors, and 
early hours. No man can walk and shoot well unless he attends 
to his condition. 



50 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER V.. 

SOME OLD PORTRAITS. 

IT is amusing, and I think profitable, to notice the changes that 
take place in fashion, and to trace our improvements in many 
particulars, if not in everything. 

I recollect some years ago turning over with a friend the sport- 
ing treasures of his grandfather. At that time my host was a 
grandfather of some twenty years' standing ; and the old bureau 
had come to him by the death of an elder brother, with what 
was of far more consequence the Elizabethan house, the park, 
the deer, and the broad lands of his bachelor relative. 

With the care and hoarding nature which seems equally the 
mark of the unmarried and of magpies, he had religiously pre- 
served these old household gods, and they had not been seen by 
their new possessor for many 'years. 

The old ancestor had been a very mighty Nimrod in his day, 
and his son had been charged to preserve and never dispose of 
these hunting chattels, which, with the self-conceit of an old, 
uneducated squire, the failing huntsman believed no future 
science could replace. Thus we rummaged out from the old 
" press " that morning many a quaint old vestment, a wonder- 
fully hard square-cut saddle, topboots with about as much shape 
and make about them as a dried sole-skin, and a coat which 
would have encompassed most water-butts, but was more re- 
markable for its uncouth and desperately inconvenient collar. 

There was the old hunting whip, fashioned like a short carter's 
flail, having a large boss or knob at the handle, and adapted for 
frays with highwaymen, or the destruction of " upper bars " if 
the short-tailed hunter, pumped or stale, refused timber at the 
end of one of those terrible long days, lasting from dawn to 
dark. 

At those times the "orange tawny" of the Berkeleys was more 
fashionable than the pink, and a long-skirted frock coat (a hunts- 
man's) turned up amongst the treasures, threadbare on the 
shoulder from carrying the long curved hunting horn. 



SOME OLD PORTRAITS. 51 

Leaving these moth-eaten garments and accoutrements, we had 
come to the old bureau, where we found snuff boxes, one or two 
of exquisite manufacture, wrought in gold, and adorned with 
jewels, in the fashion of Louis Quatorze, one of which a good 
judge declared to have cost at least three or four hundred pounds. 
Here are the spurs with which Nimrod rode ; here again a small 
parcel of "kennel whipcord," which never was required ; and a 
morocco case, much faded and battered, impressed with the gold 
effigy of a fighting cock (trimmed and spurred) without, and 
holding four pairs of silver spurs within. 

The cockpit (long since turned into a fernery) adjoined the 
billiard-room, and had been constructed to accommodate upwards 
of 100 persons. 

Looking round at the old portraits of dogs and horses, growing 
obscure behind a coating of yellow varnish, I am struck with the 
ingenious cruelty of these times ; I see the portrait of Colonel 
Thornton's pointer, who had but the stump of a tail left, and 
who, as a puppy, in all probability was " wormed." 

Here are two of the old black waggon horses with no tail at 
all. No my friend corrects me those were the coach-horses 
which were used on grand occasions, named, perhaps on account 
of their docked tails and crops ears, ' Crop " and ' Stump." "I 
can remember " (my friend added) " seeing George IV. riding a 
roan horse which he purchased of old Tattersall, and which the 
barbarous fashion of the times had deprived of both his ears." 

The barbarous votaries of fashion always had some excuse to 
urge for these savage " customs." Thus they argued that worm- 
ing a dog (the cutting some imaginary nerve from the root of the 
tongue) prevented rabies. Docking a horse strengthened the 
back, and the same operation performed on the pointer did away 
with self-inflicted flagellation when Don came upon the body 
scent of game. 

I never could discover any excuse for cropping or nicking 
horses ; nor can any palliation be offered to the miscreants who 
not unfrequently, by their severity, superinduced lockjaw. 

Unwilling as we may be to confess it, the sportsman and the 
brute were too commonly synonymous terms, and this antiquated 
belief descends upon some persons to the present day. 

Bear-baiting (the bear's eyes put out occasionally, to deprive 
him of half his power of opposition), badger-baiting (five dogs 
at the badger altogether), bull-baiting (frequently on a Sunday 
afternoon), and cock-fighting in the public streets these were 

E 2 



02 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

the tastes of the pigtail period ; and advocates for the suppres- 
sion of these ' pastimes " were met with the even then stale 
argument that on such scenes we depended for our national bull- 
dog courage. 

To this end princes of the blood were present at prizes battles, 
and in one or two instances conveyed one or other of the heroes 
to the arena. A " captain " trained a pugilist for the en- 
counter, and once, I believe, himself fought for and won the 
stakes. Fifty times the property was required to kill partridges 
as to -enable a man to vote for a knight of the shire, and those 
who were qualified to shoot did not blush to sally out at night 
and slaughter whole coveys at a shot " at the time they jugged." 

Coarseness, cruelty, and unmanliness did not cease with Queen 
Elizabeth and the princely pleasures of Kenilworth. More than 
two hundred years after her day the blasphemous letters of 
pugilists, all unshorn of their bad spelling and want of grammar, 
were printed in the Sporting Magazine, and its pages were further 
garnished with "criin. cons.,' elopements in high life, and " the 
valour of a ginger-red." 

Veterinary science was another name for barbarity. Horses 
labouring under glanders were subjected to unheard-of barbarities. 
Drinking was chronicled as a great feat, and at Cambridge these 
'' bottle combatants " sat vis-a-vis on the floor, pledging each 
other in tumblers, until they had consumed more than eight 
bottles a man ; " Lord B." exclaiming with an oath, " I would 
I were the arch of a bridge, and liquor always running through 
me ! '' 

Badgers, fighting dogs, "fair Cyprians," and bears, gamecocks, 
pugilists now and then of the " fair "(?) sex duels to the death 
after a severe night's potations, made up a sportsman's life, and 
shared the attentions he bestowed upon his pigtail, his powder, 
and his "ginger-red." 

Gaming was looked upon as a relaxation from the fatigues of 
mind and body, but it was not uncommon with the loser to forget 
to pay ; and Elwes the miser, who " would never ask a gentle- 
onan for money," was first and last a loser of fifteen thousand 
pounds. 

In 1795 " cock-squailing " (throwing at a tethered cock) was 
the common practice at Ipswich, and " knights of the fist " 
fought their battles in the Lyceum. Highway robbery was the 
rule, and not the exception, and sportsmen loaded their guns to 
return from Lewisham. 



SOME OLD PORTRAITS. 53 

Cock-fighting was not suppressed in 'the city until 1705, but 
then the sport still continued at Cockpit Royal, St.' James's. 
"Ladies of title " played fraudulently at faro, and were convicted, 
though not much punished ; but shoplifters expiated their crimes 
upon the scaffold. 

In 1802 bull-baiting and bull-running were attempted to be 
stopped by Act of Parliament. Mr. Windham declared this 
system of reform "arose out of jacobinism and religious fanaticism. 
" Were gentlemen certain that ,the bull did not experience 
pleasure from it ? Bulls once baited (he said) were called game 
bulls, for they were more anxious to attack the dogs than others ! 
Gentlemen would not deny that the dog had pleasure in the con- 
test. In his opinion it was the least cruel of all field sports, and 
cherished those feelings which were the best support of loyalty, 
and the greatest protection both of Church and State." Colonel 
Grosvenor followed on the same side, declaring that " if a treaty 
was signed between bull- dogs and bulls the death warrant of the 
countn/ would be signed. " Mr. Courtenay proposed bringing over 
Corsican bulls, which he understood were " particularly adapted 
for the sport,'' and wound up by " trusting that, as bull-baiting had 
been proved so conducive to the happiness of both the human and 
brute creation, and so essential to the preservation of our consti- 
tution, our national character, and morality, the House would 
never consent to abolish so invaluable a practice." The bill was 
thrown out by a majority of lo. 

Twenty-one years after Pai'liament interfered again, and still 
the pastime had its advocates (being defended by Brougham) : but 
even "Vox Humanitatis," who expostulates with the Scottish 
barrister, does not dare oppose badger-baiting and dog-fighting. 

These sports remained until my school days, although cock- 
fighting was on the wane. 

A Worcestershire village feast was not absolutely complete 
without a badger. When a schoolboy I have seen the whole 
performance on the banks of the Severn. There was no inter- 
ference on the part of the magistrates, and police there were none. 
The village constable was selected (like a London watchman) as 
the most decrepit who could be found, and in this particular 
instance he assisted in the badger's toilet, fastening the rope with 
"wax ends " to his tail, and getting a good foundation for the 
clock case, which, placed lengthways, did duty for a "holt" or 
" trunk.'' Down this the terriers rushed to the fray one or two, 
with rueful countenances, coming out a great deal more precipi- 



5 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

tately than they went in : until a vixenish terrier, with sharp 
cropped ears (she was white with a smutty nose), walked de- 
liberately down, and there was "a deal of drumming" at the 
lower end. Presently the turmoil extended towards the mouth 
of the den, and out tumbled dog and badger, but the white 
terrier had finished the poor victim. He opened his jaws once or 
twice upon the sward (as one of the bystanders, probably a florist, 
observed) "like a pair of garden shears," and in spite of cold 
water and brandy administered with a bottle rather a ticklish 
operation as it seemed to me the poor brute breathed his last, 
and the parish sexton, turning to a bystander, exclaimed ruefully 
that all the sport for that feast was over. 

Nominally forbidden, cock-fighting was tacitly sanctioned at 
some schools ; and I recollect hearing of a village priest who eked 
out his income by pupils, and was remarkable for his grim views 
ecclesiastical, whose only remonstrance with his pupils was, one 
Easter Monday, '' I hope, young gentlemen, there's nothing 
wrong going on in the barn, for I can hear a deal of crowing" 

Drinking how long ago shall I say ? well, thirty years ago 
was a very venial crime at our universities ; and well it might be, 
for all my dons but one were three-bottle men, and what could 
they say to an undergraduate ? I can tell you what one did say 
as four were carrying off an invalid who was biting fiercely at 
the cuffs of those Samaritans who had picked him up helpless in 
the " quad.'' " Don't hurt him, poor fellow ! he had better have 
had another bottle, and then he would have sobered under the 
table." 

With a great deal of the immoral, we did not want for whole- 
some lessons in the capital punishment line. We hung then 
for arson, horse-stealing, and, if I am not wrong, for sheep- 
stealing. 

We did not excel in cleanliness. There were not many advo- 
cates of cold tub in a morning, and man} 1 a student might, as far 
as his ablutions went, have got a degree in Germany. 

Then how tight the clothes were ! Far tighter than the skin. 
The tailor tapped the chalk upon every little crease in the sleeve 
and across the back, until the force of tailors could no farther 
go ; and when we owed a very long bill he left in the basting 
cotton much such a hint of non-payment as the old painter's, 
who put a pair of chalk moustaches upon the unpaid portrait as 
it hung in the Academy on the line. This puts me in mind 
(pardon the digression) of a story that went about, not long ago, 



SOME OLD POETEAITS. 55 

of a modern Schneider, who was accosted at the covert side by 
one of his customers, a terribly particular one as to fit, but 
having, as regarded payment, the best lungs in the shires. 

" I believe," he said, accosting his robe-maker, " You are 

Mr. , of street?" "Yes, sir. I am." "Then," said 

the customer, ' just look at my coat. Doesn't it wrinkle in the 
back?" '-Decidedly," the tailor answered, not the least discon- 
certed; "allow me got a bit of chalk in my pocket," and, 
leaning forward, he drew a large chalk mark across the pink. 
" Send it us, to-morrow, sir, and it shall be remedied ; " and with 
that he made off, the whole field roaring with laughter at the 
rebuke administered. 

I go back to the old days again. Athletics ! They were few, 
and athletes scarce. Boating with in-rigged eights, sculling in 
heavy skiffs or flat canoes, with partial training, and sometimes 
with a discipline regarding only the morning's run and mutton 
chops. I remember a capital eight being sent up to contend for 
victory. It is as long ago as I can remember ; and they won it 
too, but they were so beaten that two or three had to be carried 
out of the boat, and I think it shattered the constitutions of the 
whole crew. Late hours, bad wine, smoking, and all that, won't 
do, either in training or out of it, for long ; and though we had 
men who could row a mile or two, say from Iffley to Oxford, they 
could not " stay." 

But I have not half completed the list of implements in the 
press and the bureau my friend and I turned out. <; Badger- 
tongs ; " a " bull-iron," for hauling the unhappy animal to the 
stake ; " branding irons" for hound or horse ; a copper abomina- 
tion for burning down what the ignorant call 'larnpas" in a 
horse's mouth, a process aggravating the pain under which the 
colt suffers when cutting his teeth : a pulley and weights (the 
ceilings of the old stable still retained the hooks in them) for 
keeping the wounds of the nicked tails gaping, and so to prevent 
the tendons from uniting ; the saw for amputating the natural 
spur of the cock, and which was contained in a pocket-knife ; 
and several dozen " dog-spears" for the protection of the coverts 
all these were there. 

I don't say there is no ferocity in the present generation ; 
but it is not to be found in the polished or educated classes. 
Anything like ruffianism or barbarity meets with something 
sharper than rebukes : and I don't think that in all London 
nowadays you would find a cock-pit in the upper story and a 



56 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

band of music, whilst the hostess, with a bland smile, would 
telegraph you towards the cock-pit in the garret, and reassure 
you with the remark, " Our neighbours thinks as we've got a 
dance ! " It was so not much more than a score of years ago. 

No man would dare to paint what Hogarth painted, supposing 
vain notion, truly that he was Hogarth's peer in genius ; nor 
to wiite as Fielding, even if surrounded by that novelist's con- 
temporaries. 

There is a rooted contempt for cruelty and coarseness, which 
leads to the disuse of the cock-pit, or oaths and curses as exple- 
tives in conversation. 

I think most of this improvement had taken root at the very 
commencement of this reign. I am sure the purity of the Court, 
and the example set by "the father of our kings to be," did a 
great deal for the present generation. It is true that we did 
not agree with him in all his ideas of sport, and some of us had 
a far more fiery ardour in the chase : but we learnt a great deal 
of refinement from him, not only in the form and colour of the 
commonest themes, but in our manner and expression. 

I recollect, very soon after the Eoyal marriage, the Prince 
came to Nuneham, where they stayed as guests of Archbishop 
Harcourt, and what a crowd from young Oxford rode out to 
welcome them. 

I remember the Duke came about half-an-hour before her 
Majesty a little man, in white trousers (badly made, my tailor 
said), in a yellow postchaise, his old Waterloo valet on the box ; 
then four greys and the Queen and her Consort, a very young man 
then ; and by each of the carriage-doors a yeomanry officer, with 
a very red face, then, galloping on hired screws, and a few on their 
own horses, all the men who could ride, and a good many who 
could not. 

Next day the Prince came to " the grand commemoration," 
attended by Anson " George Anson " I think they called him 
and some one else, who stood behind his chair ; young, grave, 
sedate, handsome, in a dress-suit, with the garter on his knee ; 
dark hair and moustaches, and a melancholy though intelligent 
look. A great contrast to the tremendous waistcoats, the loud- 
pattern trousers, the claret, blue, drake's-neck green, and snuff- 
coloured coats, with their basket gilt buttons, which were there 
to greet him many of them, I fear, still unpaid for ! And the 
next day he was seen visiting College gardens, Museum, College 
chapels, halls, and quadrangles in a dark frock-coat and the 



SOME OLD PORTRAITS. 57 

remainder en tuite: a very good exemplar to onr "fast men," 
upon whom, by the way some at least the Prince's appear- 
ance was not lost. I can answer for one, at any rate, who came 
an unlicked cub from Australia, and, having '-gone the pace," 
and bolted from the course, fell in the Indian mutiny. " If," he 
said. '' I could venture to give an order, I would come out in a 
dark suit, and I shall give my crimson velvet waistcoats to my 
scout." There must be something in an example, for proctors, 
doctors, and dons of every degree had attacked these waistcoats in 
vain. 

The impression of example was felt more year by year, and I 
have always regretted that the author of our improvement as a 
people did not live to see what I look upon as the completion of 
a work which all true men watch with interest. 

I could quote many instances of the benefit from this Royal 
example ; but as I consult my notes my ear catches the sound 
of altercation in my yard below, where I heard the postman (two 
minutes and three-quarters behind his time) exchanging compli- 
ments with my servant, and asking him, with strong adjectives 
and adjurations, if his " so-and-so " master means to detain him, 
Her Majesty's servant : finishing with an anything but bland 
permission to me to take my bag myself unless it is instantly 
forthcoming. 

Verily, he has lived beyond the reach of a good example ; or, 
wait perhaps he is a sportsman of the old school ! 



58 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER VU. 
DENS AND SANCTUMS. 

IF there is one picture of Hogarth's which enlists my sympathies- 
more than another, it is that of "The Enraged Musician," beset, 
by drum, horn, clarinet, milkmaid, ballad singer, screaming 
child, cleaver grinder, and dustman close at hand, whilst the cats 
are serenading him in the distance. What would not such a 
musical genius have given for a lone quiet room, apart from all 
these false notes and that cunningly-painted discord ! 

There is no doubt that some temperaments are so happily con- 
stituted as to be undisturbed by any sounds, musical or un- 
musical. The Battle of Prague (with the common accompani- 
ments), those eternal " scales " (I know the very part where I may 
expect a break-down, a pause, and the usual expostulation of the 
governess) ; the measured thump of the rocking horse overhead, 
varied by a sudden fall, momentary silence, the scuffling of feet, 
and a prolonged roar ; the crash of the crockery, the announce- 
ment that there is an end of the vegetable dishes, which can't be 
matched these domestic catastrophes fall lightly enough upon 
some tough dispositions I could name ; whilst street bawls, 
peripatetic organs, Punch (in more senses than one), and the 
various street bands of London murdered John Leech, and nearly 
drove Mr. Babbage wild. 

When you have anything to do, it is a great blessing to be able 
to escape into some quiet place to do it a den where none dares 
to follow you, where you put on the coals yourself, and without 
that crash which sends all your blood to your heart, and what is 
of more consequence, disarranges for ever that last neat thing in 
paragraphs. 

At certain fixed seasons every Englishman's home is more or 
less a Pandemonium. When the "carpets are up" especially 
the stair carpets I can say for myself that I believe in the 
transmigration of souls. I am the camel fainting beneath that 
last straw, and I rejoice that I can " make tracks " for my home 
in the wilderness. 

It has always appeared very strange to me that a man's 



DENS AND SANCTUMS. 59 

dressing room is for the most part so contrived as to be at once 
the smallest, darkest, and most uncomfortable cabinet in the 
dwelling. If he lays out the house himself which nine times 
out of ten it is a weak thing to do he is satisfied to put up 
with ten feet square and a boot rack, devoting one corner to the 
shower bath, the other to his towels and lavatory; and very often 
there is no means of lighting a fire or making things look cheer- 
ful for "master," on his return wet through after ''drawing 
blank " from ' eleven thirty " to " three fifteen !" 

I rue enough, the splash and slop of a dressing room is rather 
discouraging, and 'tis an apartment which finds little favour 
with any of us. After it has served its purpose, we gladly 
throw the window open, and look for the neatly appointed break- 
fast room. 

But supposing you are a restless spirit, that you come down 
before they have let light into the hall, or that the house is as 
yet involved in a sort of common ruin, or being sacked by house- 
maids and the footman out of livery ? 

Here I blunder over the boots of yesterday, and in my lady's 
drawing room I can hear as I listen the throbbing and long 
pulses of the "carpet broom." Here, as I live, is a cracked 
platter of tea-leaves ; and, as I run the gauntlet amidst domestics 
who seem just as desirous to escape me, I stumble over a dust- 
pan and coal scuttle in this darkened " atrium." 

I have made it my business to notice quiet nooks and 
corners lately, and to mark their excellences and defects these 
private rooms, apart from the sound of the school piano, the 
slamming of doors, the harsh voices of vigorous servant rnaid?, 
and the rough dialect of groom and helper where the ejacula- 
tions that " Robert have a bin and throwd down the horse," or 
that the youngest child but one ' would have been burnt to death 
but for." &c.. &c., come upon you sobered and softened by time 
wherein it is death without benefit of clergy to appear (except 
by proxy of the "Missus") with requests for the loan of a 
hammer, an axe, a list of all the trains that stop at Swindon, a 
teacupful of cod liver oil, or the well grapnels where village 
news breaks upon you by degrees, aiid you don't jump in your 
chair as that loud ploughman proclaims like a stontor. " Brown's 
five boys is got took down with the fever, and four on 'em won't 
live the night !" the door of which dwelling room shall be im- 
penetrable as a portcullis to persevering wine merchants, peripa- 
tetic dentists, and Solomons with crystal spectacles, which 



60 THE IDSTONE PAPEES. 

" cool " the eye, preserve the vision, and are recommended by 
" the faculty," where that clamour and Babel of tongues which 
maddens me, and which I fancy must much resemble in its inar- 
ticulate confusion, 500 or more excited Welshmen at a national 
' Eisteddfod," is deadened into a murmur like the sound of the 
aspens by the side of my favourite carp hole. So much for the 
preamble ; now for the particulars. 

You see in most country houses a good hall, which airs the 
whole dwelling in summer, and warms it in winter. There is to 
a certainty a good dining room, a drawing room, replete with 
bric-a-brac, ormolu clocks, French polish, and possibly a sewing 
machine to balance the " Erard." 

For the most part, the library has a deserted appearance, 
Above the books, including topographv, Dugdale s " Monasticon," 
Burn's " Justice, ' and other light reading, it is very common to 
suspend your ancestors. I know one room of this description 
wherein frown innumerable militia colonels, backed by thundering 
cannon and murderous engagements. In one large county house, 
the library is also the lumber room, and the prospective barley 
for future pheasants rests in sacks against folio Shakespeares, 
and a veritable original edition of Ben Jonson. When I was 
last there several volumes of rare value were displaced to make 
room for twelve vases of blacking and six Bath bricks ; and the 
most beautiful spider's web I ever saw in my life was suspended 
from the ceiling to the corner of Gisborne's " Whole Duty of 
Man." 

Apart from the library, and generally remote from the most 
select parts of the house, magistrates have what they call a 
" justice room." It is a dreary apartment for the most part, and 
the furniture is of the coarser sort. Sometimes there is an 
official deal table, tolerably well stained, and above it numerous 
pigeon-holes filled more or less with what, to the uninitiated, 
resemble ''briefs," but which a "justice's" wife pointed out to 
me, in one instance, as " dummies." There, too. is the pro- 
fessional Testament with brass hinges, on which the " haw- 
bucks " are sworn, after it has been ascertained that they know 
the nature of an oath, and are prepared to be sworn accordingly. 

One of the rooms I saw last has remarkably high windows, 
and was entered on one side through the "still room," on the 
other by the "butler's parlour." 

In country houses yea, even in "a villa." which I detest 
you want some room for yourself : a sanctum with a latch key, 



DEXS AND SANCTUMS. Cl 

and an approach through the house, and by way of the garden, if 
you will. It is of the utmost importance for your comfort that 
it should be away from the sounds of a family, and so contrived 
that those you desire to see may be ushered in and out without 
much trouble. You want a room cool, light, well ventilated, 
easily warmed, and fitted up to hold what you are constantly 
using, whether guns, fishing rods, or the smaller agricultural 
instruments, in a compact and even an ornamental form. 

I have seen a good number of these rooms adapted for their 
purpose moderately well : some of them could scarcely be sur- 
passed. Almost always they were after-thoughts that is, they 
were built subsequently to the completion of the house ; they had 
nothing to do with the original design. 

I have seen one which, raised twelve feet or more above the 
ground, gives space for a keeper's gun room beneath ; whilst 
above, with sofas round, and from bay windows, you can see the 
long reach of a trout river, and everything going on in the stable 
yards below. This room is thoroughly detached from the 
li manse," but it might very easily be approached by an orna- 
mental bridge. It is fourteen feet square, and a great proportion 
of the sides is taken up with glass. You go up to it by an out- 
side flight of steps, and there is a capital Swiss balcony or 
verandah all round. If they had put a ventilator in the roof, it 
would have been a perfect bachelor's room, fitted as it is with 
many of Negretti and Zambra's best instruments, and on the 
seaboard side as excellent a telescope as I ever saw. 

I saw a room the other day which I thought excellent. This room, 
eighteen by twenty-two feet, is about two feet above the surface 
of the ground, and looks through two large French windows upon 
the croquet lawn, flower garden, and background of home coverts 
and deep woods. You can get to it through a long and winding 
passage without going through any of the suites of rooms, and 
you can ' leave it by the French doors, and be at once in your 
saddle room or stable. You can slip away from a bore or admit 
a friend, or ring up a servant to administer a caution about the 
way the oats are disappearing, the dull polish on those saddle 
bars, the scratch upon the carriage panel, the way they shut up 
and stifle the horses in the stable, or correct these various offences 
which cost a man of average income about two hundred pounds a 
year, to the advantage and benefit of no one on earth, but which 
a bad servant thinks it " impossible to prevent." 

Now the ventilation of this room is perfect although it ia 



62 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

covered with tiles, which to my mind are the next bad thing to 
slates for there is a double skylight in the top, with the power 
to let a current of air through it at will, a large chimney and 
chimney corner, and plenty of " head room," the middle of the 
ceiling being twenty-one feet high at least. 

The beams or rafters, or whatever builders call them, are of 
varnished deal ; the walls are covered with books of reference 
and of imagination I didn't see any law, physic, or philosophy ; 
and there were stuffed birds, preserved reptiles, and a few 
antiquities, which would have raised the envy, some of them, of 
Scott's "Antiquary." You could get by a short flight of stairs 
into a very comfortable and pleasant dormitory, which the owner 
thereof irreverently termed '' The Barracks, for it had been the 
home quarters of a younger brother, who had played heads or 
tails with his life in the Crimea. India, and I know not where, 
returning to this " roost " a full colonel, and I don t know what 
besides. 

However, let us leave this den or roost and upon my word it 
is a good one to look at another, which is to niy mind perfect. 
I believe that it was built by a railway contractor, who rented a 
house near me whilst he made that line, which has swallowed up 
the fortunes the large fortunes of more that one good old 
sterling county family. 

Mr. Eailway Contractor wanted more room for his wife's landau, 
his mail phaeton, whitechapel, and private omnibus. He had a 
largish family, and they were brought up to deny themselves 
nothing. Some one said they were as improvident as a West- 
end butcher at that time beefsteaks were something like Is. 6d. 
a pound. At any rate, the contractor deserves well of his suc- 
cessor, for he made him a fine set of coachhouses on the ground 
floor, and first-class den and ante-room above. 

These rooms are separate from the house, and on both sides 
they have as much glass as you would desire in most conserva- 
tories. The top storey is about twenty-four feet wide, and fifty 
feet long, approached from without by a wide flight of steps, 
which leads to the first room, about fifteen feet long, and sepa- 
rated from the inner room by folding doors. It is now occupied 
by a country gentleman who owns the estate, and who uses it as 
his morning room and smoking room. As he is also a county 
magistrate, and employs a great many hands, he has a good deal 
of intercourse with the labouring classes, and he tells me you 
can't possibly imagine the advantage he has over the men with long 



DENS AND SANCTUMS. 63 

and imaginary grievances. " I never admit tliem," lie tells me, 
" beyond this ante-room. I always get a warning that some one 
is coming, for as they pass that footbridge there it lets off this 
little trigger, and I get a glimpse at the comer before he can see 
me. T go out and see him in that ante-room, and I can say as 
soon as I like, 'Very good, I will see you again,' or ' There is 
nothing to be done,' as the case may be, and I come through 
these doors and am beyond his reach." 

Whilst he was describing these arrangements the simple contri- 
vance I have described was set in motion, but we had to go to the 
window to see who was coming. I thought this a clumsy arrange- 
ment, and suggested one of those reflectors which give you a street 
in miniature; and when I was last there he had adopted and was 
pleased with my suggestion. 

If you combine the writing room, justice room, gun room, and 
workshops, you should have a good deal of space ; and everything 
tending (like a lathe) to make a litter should be far off, and 
beneath a skylight if possible. 

I don't advise placing tools, which are portable, or a lathe, 
which tempts meddlers irresistibly, in the ante-room. If the part 
of your den appropriated to work is covered with oilcloth, litter 
is soon swept up, and especially if in one corner you have a spout 
or " shoot " leading to a dust bin below. Don't build it by 
preference on the ground floor. The rooms under a den are 
available for so many purposes, and it is so pleasant to have a 
good "look-out." Have a verandah all round, and sacrifice 
anything or everything to a good draught for your fire. Window 
glass is cheap enough, and don't spare it. The contractor had 
balancing shutters to his, which came up and went down almost 
of their own accord. Take the season through, I think floorcloth 
is better than a carpet. If you must have a carpet, there is 
nothing like a Turkey carpet for economy, and I never saw one 
worn out. One of the prettiest rooms I ever saw is panelled with 
varnished deal ; but this was expensive it cost over 30/. A 
speaking tube to the house or stable need not cost much, and it 
is a very convenient thing. If you have made your sanctum 
comfortable, especially if it can be got at without difficulty from 
the house, it is a famous place for those fellows who, when it 
rains, smoke all day long ; and when they are in it, it will be 
wise to take care that your house is well found in "soda and 
brandy." 

I have not said anything of one den which I have in niy mind's 



G4 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

eye, looking out up a ghost walk a terrace, stone balustrades, 
and peacocks where of a still evening you can just hear the 
wash of the sea upon the distant shingle beach, with its white 
closets stacked with havannahs. I speak feelingly of that 
" cool grot," as I write here with the thermometer at I don't 
know what ! 

Nor have I mentioned that room, half library, half work- 
room, and, an Irishman would tell you, half a dozen other things 
besides, which leads into conservatories, peach-houses, photo- 
graphic sanctums, pigeon-lofts, and poultry-houses where arti- 
ficial mothers act the entire part of hens (except, I believe, laying 
the eggs). For the once I shall not say anything of my private 
room, or the well-used ink-begrimed table which has been my 
support in many a struggle to get to the bottom of the second 
column of the Field in my writing, and yet to catch the post. 
My maid of all work says the boy's waiting for "the bag." All 
right ; here you are ! 



THE RAT-CATCHER. 65 



PAPER VIII. 

THE RAT-CATCHER. 

ON some occasions everything goes wrong. Whether it is ' the 
planets that are a working," or what the evil influence may be, I 
suppose we shall never ascertain. The first reason my old laun- 
dress assures me is the correct one, and I accept it as a fact. At 
any rate, so it was one 5th of September, when two of us had pre- 
pared to start for a day's shooting about five miles away from 
home. I broke two boot laces ; I had a tender heel ; my groom, 
as we breakfasted, " wanted a word " witli me, and stated his 
intention to marry our light-handed abigail. and to better him- 
elf. As he turned away he advised driving the bay instead of 
the brown, for Brown Stout seemed off his feed ; to make it worse, 
the bay had done twelve miles that morning, and was a four-year- 
old, hot in harness, and fretful unless he could snatch at his bit 
and do all twelve miles an hour. The prospect of unmitigated 
happiness had produced its effects upon my man servant, and as 
we drove along in my pet Whitechapel a faint squeak on my side 
of the cart intimated a hot wheel. There was no " spanner " in 
the driving box, though at the Squire's stables, which we were 
passing, we could have obtained oil ; so driving slowly the last 
two miles made us late by forty minutes all but a few seconds. 

I could see that we had been the subject of animated discus- 
sion when we found our party at the trysting place, and, though 
our host was all that was kind and polite, his keeper looked 
glumpy and stern as he touched his hat and helped down my young 
setters. His subordinate wore the aspect of an injured man ; 
and "the friend from Oxfordshire," who had come down from 
the midst of his shorthorns and superphosphate, merely touched 
the brim of his white hat in recognition of an introduction which 
he evidently could have dispensed with, and at once put in his 
cartridges a hint that there was no time to lose. 

" Them dogs," the keeper ventured to remark, as he jerked his 
thumb towards my lemon-and-whites "them dogs," he said (in 
a stentorian voice, which made them shake again, and intimated 

F 



66 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

his opinion that they were useless brutes), " arn't agoing to do 
anything to day. If master had some sandfoin, the birds would 
lay ; but I don't believe we shall get anything at all except in 
the hedges." And so I at once returned them to the custody of 
my servant, and my retriever, for all I cared, could have gone 
with them. 

We spread out to walk, and we might as well have tried to 
shoot the emu a bird the Irish naturalist described as " extinct, 
and therefore only to be obtained with difficulty." We fagged 
on for two hours. Such long hours they were to me and to my 
friend on the right ! him of the shorthorns, in the long-waisted 
coat with the large buttons, with that long waistcoat of the same 
material, the white wideawake hat, and the red face beneath it. 
a face that seemed somehow associated with " one cheer more " 
and a chorus. Two brace of birds and a "rail," no hares (my 
friend keeps greyhounds, and aspires to be the winner of the 
Waterloo Cup) ; coveys of twenty, coveys of eighteen, get iip at 
sixty, seventy, and a hundred yards. I limp along wearily, and 
rejoice to see the little waggon and the luncheon. 

Leaning on the tailboard of this primitive vehicle is the supei'- 
annuated carter, very old. very long in the body, and particularly 
short in the legs ; in his present position he much resembles a 
greyhound eating off a kitchen dresser, and he has the same sus- 
picious look. As we get nearer I make him out to be perhaps 
eighty, with a face indicating natural humour, and withal un- 
consciousness of the fact. His "boy," a son of fifty or sixty, is 
holding the horse, an active though coarse-bred hackney or road- 
ster, who seems a little fretful, and is caparisoned with harness 
that has seen a deal of service. " The tugs," the old man tells 
us, have broken once as he came along. The old man has but one 
eye ; the other, I learn, "master's grandfather " shot out for him 
years ago. and he has never given his mind to shooting since. 
"Now," he adds, with much loquacity, as soon as we have done 
luncheon and he has driven us to the next ground (two miles 
away), " we shall turn back and kill them rats in the barn with 
master's old greyhound," which he states to be "the best dog as is." 

As we discussed the good things from the waggon, he waited 
with what, considering, his age, I might call alacrity ; regret- 
ting that his last daughter had died a couple of years before, who 
would have served us better, for she was "as handy as a horse 
about a house." 

" Twelve children " he had reared, but the six girls all died ; 



THE BAT-CATCHER. 67 

and lie supposed if that boy holding the horse had been a girl, 
he would have died too. 

" Better than eighty," he was, " last Lammas.'' " Work ? Yes, 
with any man ; and it was because he had taken care of himself 
and stuck to cider. Someone had told his missis that he was 
hearty because he hadn't worked his mind, and that was the first 
time he had ever known he had one. He thought such things 
belonged to gentlefolks." 

" No school when he was young," he said, " nor yet gas, nor any 
of these engines." "Now," he added, ''there's brandy, and 
penny papers, and lucifers to be had in our parish ; and they do 
say we shall have a policeman, but of course he'll have to keep 
the parishes quiet and help the gamekeepers for miles round." 

You want the man and his manner ; words of mine won't 
represent it, nor explain the way in which his good humour, 
patience, thankfulness, and quiet wit dispelled the feeling of 
mortification which we had been undergoing until the lunch 
began ; and I have a suspicion that somewhat of our improved 
feelings may be ascribed to that hamper of cold soda-water, 
each bottle of which we just flavoured with brandy to "kill the 
insects." 

And when he went on to tell us of his terriers and ferrets, 
which by the aid, assistance, and co-operation of his master he 
possessed in numbers, and which state of things he considered 
affluence, the gloomiest man of the party cheered up, and sug- 
gested an adjournment to the barn, and calling for the ferrets and 
terriers on our way. 

We had a level " down " to cross, covered with the scars of 
cart-wheels, and one track was marked with heaps of flints to 
guide night travellers making a short cut to Old Sarum ; so we 
got into the waggon in a body, the old man asserting his 
privilege to drive, though with many misgivings as to the old 
harness, which had been treacherous for years, but now was a 
trifle worse than perilous. We did very well on a dead level, but 
the young horse broke the " tugs " going up the very first incline; 
and, what with anxiety to stop him, and misgivings as to the 
reins, old Bob, the driver, looked something like a large S re- 
versed upon the footboard. 

I can't say his cottage was picturesque, though it was ruinous. 
The bailiff had not been to school for nothing, and, having a 
careless squire, it was his way to whitewash the outsides, and 
make out a good long bill for mending interiors. Sometimes they 

F2 



68 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

whitewashed that side only next the road, like the lazy coach- 
man who cleaned that part of the body and those wheels of the 
landau which faced his mistress as he took her up. She used 
to tell all her friends that he was "quite a lady's servant ! So 
he was. 

Inside Bob's cottage everything was neat enough, though he 
said, with grini politeness, " he could not ask us upstairs, as he had 
lent his ladder; and then." he said, "you must go on all fours, 
or your legs will break the flooring." 

" Which is best ?" he said, with naive simplicity, " to sleep up- 
stairs and tumble through, or to sleep down here, and for them 
to fall atop of you?" Not waiting for a reply, he crept through 
the low back door, and reappeared with three or four white 
terriers, which he carried in his arms much as I have seen a 
gardener carry flower-pots, whilst an old blue greyhound limped 
behind him. 

" The barn, gentlemen," he said, " is only just across here, and 
perhaps you wouldn't mind walking?" Remembering the ex- 
ploits of the coarse-made hack, vrhich had manifested some 
restiveness, and the brittleness of the harness, I was spokesman, 
and acquiesced. 

" Give me my gloves, missis," he said to an old woman, but who 
might be ten years younger than her husband. " Barn rats ain't 
poisonous like town ones if they bites you, but I keeps 'em from 
doing it 'cause I don't like to gratify 'em. And now I'll get the 
ferrets," which he proceeded to select, from a ferret box of his 
master's which stood at the end of the house under the eaves, 
four or five " rippers " as he called them pushing them about 
with his naked hands as a fish-woman might handle sprats, or a 
lady would scrutinise a tray of ribbons. 

" Oh. dear." he said, raising his voice that the old woman might 
hear him, " where's that little white ferret with the rings in his 
lips ? That's the handiest way to muzzle 'em," he told me con- 
fidentially, giving a spasmodic jerk to the lid which had no eye 
beneath it ; and at the same time remembering that he had the 
animal he asked about in his pocket, where he had been all the 
morning (as he would work in a line) ; then he put about four 
or five white ones, the favourite included, into a box something 
like a bird cage, which he slung over his shoulders, whistled to 
his terriers, which had remained around his cottage fire, and 
walked across the down much more actively than I should have 
expected. 



THE EAT-CATCHEE. 69 

"You'll see a lot of rats, I expect," he told us; "most of 
our fanners have thrashed, because they think wheat's agoing to 
fall ; and you should hear what excuses they make. Sometimes 
they tell people they want the straw ; but there is one of 'em 
that always makes his ricks on furze faggots, and when he sends 
for ' the steamer ' he always says the same thing that his wife 
wants the bedding of the rick to heat the oven! 

" Here's the barn. sir. Lor, what a lot there must be here ! 
Don't make no noise. I thinks," he said (looking round with his 
one eye, which seemed to expand under his suppressed excite- 
ment), '' I thinks lots of rats, and some cider, and white terriers, 
and ferrets, when they bolts quick why, it's better than being a 
king. I'd sooner be here," he continued, as he busied himself to 
untie a knot in the ferret bag with his nails and teeth "I'd sooner 
be here than in that place you was talking of to the young lady, 
-Muster Henry, when I came round the corner, and you said I was 
ahvayo where I shouldn't be. Oh, oh," he said, " that's the place 
Paradi.se ; well, I'd sooner be here than in Paradise. I'm 
always more at home with dogs and ferrets than women, specially 
^ewteel ones. Come on Slippery " this to a white terrier, which 
he took under one arm, as he held a bouquet of ferrets, all white 
ones, in his left hand, and contemplated their red eyes and 
writhing bodies with much pleasure. " Stop, though," he said, 
offering the bunch of ferrets to the visitor nearest him ; " perhaps 
you wouldn't mind holding them one minute as I put down the 
dogs. This old greyhound, he must have his own way ; and if 
he's huffed he won't do nothing." But, seeing his proffered loan 
of the ferrets was declined, he handed them to a labourer, who 
was the widower of his daughter deceased, and caught up three 
or four terriers before he reconnoitered his position. 

Slippery he dropped outside at a bolt hole, where a great deal 
of earth had been " drawn," as he explained, since Tuesday, and 
made him lie down at an angle about a foot from the wall. To 
me the dog seemed rather stupid, and somewhat over-broken, 
probably stubborn also, for he left his place and moved off a 
couple of feet, when he crouched and looked with a slight want 
of confidence at old Robert, whose one eye just observed the 
movement. But it was at once evident to the old man that this 
faithful servant of his had "shifted" to watch and command 
two holes instead of one, and the rat-catcher gave him an ap- 
proving nod. 

Carefully going round the old building, and dropping a dog at 



70 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

each likely place, lie had disposed of all that he brought with 
him, and was short of dogs at last. " We must have the young 
ones," he remarked, as, without ceremony, he walked briskly to 
his cottage, whilst the dogs remained stiff as pointers on game, 
never turned their heads, and stood motionless till he returned 
with three young white terriers, all of one litter, white with blue 
or black-blue ears, and a terrier with too much bull about his 
head, which he declared had killed a badger in his earth. 

"Never mind his head, sir," he replied to my objection: 
you reminds me of master finding fault with his best cow because 
she has ugly horns. I tells him we don't get milk out of her 
horn. I took him once to show a gentleman as had been a 
Queen's messenger, and he wouldn't believe in him, though I 
only asked a pound for him ; but a gentleman as is in some 
grand soldier regiment gave me five pounds for him and asked no 
questions, and he is to go to London next week." 

This second sample of terriers, though neat as the dogs I had 
already seen, were by no means so subdued. They were all life 
and animation, and were only fit to work under old Eobert's eye. 
One or two required several cuffs and whispered admonitions 
before they would be persuaded to guard a hole, and one milk-white 
bitch of lOlb. or thereabouts insisted on gambolling to the last 
moment with the lame greyhound, who had taken his post close to 
the end of the barn, which was half full of barley in the straw, 
trodden in hard by my friend's brown shooting pony, who, after 
eight hours' hard tramping at this work, and sliding down, was 
bridled, saddled, ridden, and made comparatively quiet for the 
gun. 

They were all fox-terriers, inside the barn and out of it a 
good straight -legged, active, sensible, punishing sort level-jawed, 
with black noses, and ribs and shoulders which would have 
caught the eye of Captain Percy Williams or Jack Russell. 

As soon as two ferrets (called by the ratcatcher "The Doctor" 
and " Old Stumpy") were in action, there was a marked 
difference in the position and expression of the dogs. Burke, a 
white one, named after that great surgeons' purveyor who was 
the terror of my childhood, turned his head from side to side, and 
as he detected, after giving the matter keen attention, a sort of 
rumbling noise as though a train of rats were coming express 
that way by "the underground," opened his teeth a little and 
prepared for a rush. A brown streak on the floor, a snap, and a 
large mother rat is dying, and the dog is motionless as before. 



THE BAT-CATCHEE. 71 

Outside there is a scurry and a squeak, and through the barn 
door thrown open I see Slippery and a rat roll over, the rat left 
dead, and the dog in hot pursuit of something in the straw. 

The old greyhound shows some excitement too, and presently 
a rat, as it seems to me, jumps into his wide jaws, which close 
and open to drop a " buck" rat (as Bob calls it), cut in half, and 
dead before it reaches the oak boards. 

Here we have a chase, three dogs all after him as the 
' varmint'' slips under the winnowing machine, dodges beneath 
the " barley booby," and is lost behind the bushel measure and 
half a dozen harvest rakes. He is not gone far. though. 
Worry, the white terrier, with the rich foxhound tan cheeks, 
stands sentry and won't move. Two of us move the impediments, 
as Livy calls such gear, and, though the eye can t follow the 
game, the little bitch is after him, and he pays forfeit. 

Hero a whole bevy bolt in desperation, and in unpleasant 
proximity to the last peers the face of the white ferret, " The 
Doctor, and it is hard to say whether his eyes or lips are reddest. 
He has evidently been operating successfully, and has cut his 
patients about a good deal. 

Attracted by the chase of these, I don't observe the greyhound 
for some ten minutes : but presently, as Bob nudges my elbow, I 
see him within a few yards of his first position, and seven or 
eight rats dead around him. One has scarce expired, and is 
gasping his life away. The old dog casts a look at him, and 
would say if he could, no doubt, ' Don't make such a fuss about 
it ; get on with your dying ; you will soon be all right." (I have 
heard ''Christians" comfort a suffering human creature in much 
the same way). A rat runs between my legs, and the white dogs 
are round my feet like a swarm of bees. There is a sort of scurry 
and disturbance round about me, which somehow makes me think 
of the coining elections, and presently a dead rat is left within 
five or six feet of me, gasping like what shall I say? a rejected 
candidate. 

There were intervals between these incidents, and deep consul- 
tations between master and man as to what hole should be 
operated upon, and what ferret should be used ; but they were 
not long. The great thing is, old Bob observed, to keep on 
worrying 'em don't give 'em no " lot up" (rest). Master 
Henry put in The Butcher, a white ferret, who was supposed to 
exceed all the family in atrocity and intelligence ; " he'll nurse 
'em up !" And at another spot where there were suspicions of a 



72 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

family, I might call it a domestic circle, of young rats in a nest, 
there were many proposals, the last being acceded to to let 'em 
grow until they were big enough to afford another day. " If we 
are lucky," the old man said, "we shall have swarms of rats by 
October, when the rest of the ricks are thrashed ;" and with this 
promise we were compelled to be content. 

As the rats seemed sensibly diminishing, we were inclined to 
stop, but the old man declined moving his dogs until the ferrets, 
especially ''The Butcher" declined business. " They ve got a 
few favourites inside, bless you !" said Robert, ' and won't leave 
them ;" and so it proved. There were a few desultory " bolts ' 
from time to time, when, with a little trouble and patience, he 
collected his ferrets, counted and cut off the rats' tails, and 
whistled his dogs away. 

" All your traps and poisoning and what not," he said (as he 
touched his hat and pocketed the half-crown I gave him), '" all 
your traps and drugs is no use whatever, compared with terriers 
and ferrets provided," he remarked complacently, " as you've a 
man who has patience and never makes no noise. I only wish I 
had taken to it when I was a young man. I should have been 
pretty near a professional ! Shouldn't I, Master Henry ?" 



EARLY MORXIXG IX LOXDON. 73 



PAPER IX. 
EARLY MORNING IN LONDON. 

WHAT do you call early ? That is the question. In the Albany, 
twelve o'clock perhaps ; but in this instance I am thinking of 
sunrise, 3.57 a.m. 

How many are astir in the great city at this hour in Kensing- 
ton. Bayswater, Notting-hill. or the fashionable squares ? 

These questions occurred to me as I heard a mixed party talk- 
ing of what they had seen in London, and what remained to be 
seen ; and I discovered the experience of the majority was con- 
fined to the boundary of certain hours. A plethoric old gentle- 
man, " something in the City," restricted his observations to 
what he saw through the windows of his brougham, between 
Acton and Bread-street, and had seen nothing else ' this nine 
year." "Seen the Derby?" Not he! " John Parry ?" Cer- 
tainly not ; but his "son Tom there at the bottom of the table" 
(with the expansive dinner shirt and brilliant studs ; his hair 
parted down the middle, and up again ; with moustache, and 
scarlet geranium at his button-hole), " he seen it, he did." 

Two of our company had seen the sun rise from Waterloo- 
bridge after a late dinner and an equivocal party, consisting of 
dancers and musicians ; but having witnessed this "' glorious 
sight," as one of them called it. which he added he never 
expected to see again, he resumed his cab, drove home, and 
buried his head beneath the sheets. 

So there was nothing for it but to get up myself next morning, 
and to take observations on my own hook. 

At half-past three a.m., on the thirtieth day of May last. I 
threw up the window of my bedroom and looked out towards 
Lord Holland's park. The very morning for my purpose, and 
the aneroid barometer steady and inclined to rise. No treat, 
remember, to feel yourself locked out at such an hour as this, 
and to have to stand under archways in the rain, or sit in a four- 
wheeler and while away five hours ! To tell the truth, I should 
have been pleased to observe a cloudy sky as an excuse for 



74 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

turning in again. As it was. I followed the example of our 
Continental heroes I smote myself on the breast and cried 
" courage," and so dressed myself. 

I crept down the stairs, feeling somewhat. I fancy, like a burglar, 
and narrowly missed the coal-skuttle on one landing. I unbarred 
the front door gingerly, ' and stepped out; the door slammed 
behind me, and, like my friend Fechter, in the " Duke's Motto." 
"I am here." 

In the utter solitude of a fashionable Bayswater-street ! A 
solitude relieved by the presence of two policemen one in the 
foreground leaning against the area palings, through which he 
has received many a pound of cold mutton : another is walking 
towards him, from what painters call the middle distance, with 
slow and measured tread. 

The white houses on their own lawns as I couie down the hill 
answer "Mrs. Fuggleston's " description of a suburban villa to a 
nicety, they are '' so like poached eggs on spinach.'' And the 
cats ! Every green is occupied by two, three, or more ; and 
occasionally I hear their refreshing melody. 

In the extreme distance I observe (it is four o'clock now) a 
four-wheeler at breakfast, and I make sure of an easy ride into 
the heart of London. To my dismay, as I approach him he 
acknowledges the hail of a young late gentleman, with disordered 
hair, his white waistcoat stained with claret ; and I have to walk. 

Never mind : a little further I shall find a cabstand. I do 
find it, but there are no cabs. Nothing for it but to turn into 
the High-street ; but there, too, all is silence, excepting a distant 
sound of wheels. I walk on enjoying the fresh cool air, and 
presently I am overtaken by a greengrocer's cart, drawn by a 
bright, broken-down chestnut thoroughbred, over whose hind 
quarters I observe a substantial kicking-strap. 

I hail my friend the greengroccer, who, as he arranges his blue 
serge apron, curtly demands ' What's up ?" 

I blandly request to be driven to Covent Garden, whither I 
presume that vicious chestnut and he are travelling. 

"Well," he rejoins, "so I am. yer see ; but how is it you're a 
walking ? Haven't you got a van ? I suppose (glancing at my 
watch and chain) I suppose you're in a large way ?" 

I put my friend right on this point, and explain that I am 
actuated solely by curiosity. I believe that he considered 
curiosity to be some herb or vegetable, for he remarked that he 
" never saw none there, and if there was, he couldn't bring it back 



EARLY MOHXIXO IN LONDON. <O 

for me;" adding (T can hardly s \y as a rider) that "for that 
matter I couldn't bring you back neether, for I shall be chuck 
full of cabbages, and you'll spile 'em." Then his better feelings 
overcame his scruples, and he permitted me to " jump up." 

As we approached the Marble Arch a few postmen, singly and 
in pairs, were hastening off to get their letters, and a large flock 
of sheep, driven by a dog (the man in front), passed in a leisurely 
way along Oxford-street. Regent-circus was desolate, excepting 
one or two shivering figures huddled on a doorstep, and a man 
and woman, decent and sober, who were to all appearance walk- 
ing at a very slow pace to while away the time, with a despondent 
aspect which it was sad to see. 

Arrived at King-street, Covent-garden. we came upon huge 
waggons of greens which blocked up the thoroughfare, and close 
to some hotel the vicious chestnut pulled up. " He won't go no 
further," said my friend the greengrocer : ' and what s more, I 
don't want him to. Now, if you will tell me what you want, 
I'll help you to buy it ; I can get it cheaper than you can." 

I assured him I simply desired to see the market, and. having 
given him an admirable bas-relief likeness of Her Majesty 
wrought in silver, I left him with my best thanks. 

A striking contrast to the quiet and stillness of the London 
streets as I turn into this vegetable market, which I have in 
former days contemplated often enough at mid-day from the 
windows of the old Tavistock. 

Here, in the thick of it, are crate-like waggons of young onions, 
and loads of carrots, as big in bulk as a labourer s cottage, dis- 
charging into vast round baskets held by men with porter's 
knots, who, as soon as their dozens are told off. run with them to 
the carts and vans of the wholesale dealers ; these will shortly 
disperse them, by means of their fast-trotting ponies, amongst 
the retail shops of London. 

A costermonger, one of the better class, a well-to-do man 
apparently, from his style of dress possibly a sort of middleman 
or go-between, who buys for the trade is contemplating a 
pyramid of rhubarb, his eye wandering thence to a stack of red 
radishes and lettuce packed in layers on a chair waggon which 
hails from " Wickham ;" and to his left I observe a breakfast 
party al fresco, the materials for the repast being young onions, 
bread and cheese, and porter. Further on I see geraniums and 
pinks all in bloom, but of a coarse and gaudy kind, mixed up 
with flaring yellow wall-flowers and Brompton stocks. 



7G THE IDSTONE PAPEBB. 

By the church palings men, women, and children are sitting, 
or in a half-recumbent position, making showy little bouquets-- 
with practised taste and elegance. One rather pretty Irish girl of 
about thirteen not more is surrounded by a group, who copy 
her, and evidently she is an adept, for older hands wait to see- 
what she will take next, and look up to her as an authority. 
Little creatures of four or five years old are assorting the flowers 
if they can do no more, and thus dividing the labour with older 
hands. The flowers are as fresh as though just gathered, and 
cannot have come from far, nor have been long in transit. The 
roses have the dew on them still. Here roses and geraniums are 
the principal combinations, with a sprig of lemon plant, and 
perhaps a spray of myrtle. 

Leaving the bouquet-makers, I find Russell-street jammed with 
" empties," and the same I may say of some part of Wellington- 
street, Brydges-street, and Bow-street on one side, and Henrietta- 
street on the other ; and I turn for the Flower-market, and 
wander down an avenue of peonies and lilies of the valley. Then 
I come to yards square of blue nemophila, plots of nasturtiums, 
masses of large and choice pansies in pots or balls the latter, as 
yet, undrooping from removal and all at once I find myself in a 
parterre of scarlet geraniums, their flashy flowers relieved by 
whole banks of fresh green ferns and rich mosses, which mingle 
with blue hydrangeas, mignonette, musk in full bloom, and exotic 
heath, all blossoming and scenting the air. 

I see that Londoners do not despise the flowers we scorn in our 
country walks ; for here is a cartload of buttercups, and further 
on a donkey-cart is loaded with groundsel, forming about a 
hundredth part of a bale of that bird's provender which blocks a 
neighbouring street. 

. I go through knots of squalid women who are bargaining for 
oranges and nuts, and in the heat of the argument one of them has 
deposited, or I might almost say thrown, her child into a vast round 
basket of filberts or "cobs," and it is disappearing as in a quick- 
sand beneath my eyes. Now I am on my way to the fruit market, 
and I pass a main avenue, where sharp youths with gold pins, 
and rings too sometimes, are dressing windows. 

Hitherto I have passed unmolested ; but one of this pert 
fraternity, perhaps thinking I observe his wares too keenly, asks 
me in a flippant manner, "What's up?" In his window, dressed 
as it is with great taste and neatness, are gooseberries, straw- 
berries, cherries, tomatoes, apricots, cucumbers, apples, large 



EARLY MORNING IN LONDON. 77 

round black grapes, and new potatoes. Messrs. Pankliurst have 
as good a show as anyone, and further on are groves of fancy 
grasses, petunias, geraniums, and yellow roses. Calceolarias, 
mushrooms, pines, immortelles, horse-radish, peas, mint, and 
various herbs are mingled with baskets of peaches, nectarines, 
apricots, and various fruits, done up singly, or cozily reclining in 
coloured tissue paper 

Here are young girls making up ' wedding orders;" the bride's 
bouquet is just completed, and six of those allotted to the brides- 
maids are " waiting for the forget-me-not," which the master of 
the establishment had ordered, as he impatiently observed, three 
weeks ago " Three weeks ago I ordered 'em /" Leaving my 
purple-faced friend in this fix, I thread my way to Drury-lane, 
and hail yellow Hansom 6257, who is breakfasting on salad and 
hard-boiled eggs, his tea-can held for him by his little daughter, 
as I suppose, and I request to be driven to what he repeats after 
me as "Ledunall." 

We thread Brydges-street with difficulty, and are in the stillness 
and solitude of the Strand. The sun is well up now ; it shines 
full into the hood of my orange Hansom, and sparkles on the 
harne rings and terrets of the big, ragged-hipped bay that bowls 
us along towards "Ledunall." Every shutter is up in these 
desert places ; but now and then we come upon a lone cab and 
crippled horse. As far as Temple Bar we meet no vehicles, or 
scarcely any, and I speculate upon the admirable scene this part 
of the Strand would form for football, with Temple Bar for a 
goal. 

In Fleet-street there is somewhat of life. Two or three vans 
heaped with newspapers in large bales are hastening to impart 
the latest news to the uttermost corners of the earth. Porters 
sway from side to side with vast masses of Times and Telegraphs, 
.^t'trs and Standards, with other publications, and there is a 
stream of costermongers' barrows and trucks trickling down 
towards Covent Garden. 

Cheapside, the Royal Exchange, Cornhill, are all solitudes ; 
but in Leadenhall-street there is a smell of salt and hides, and I 
find a bustle in the midst of the beef of that celebrated market. 

There I wander from beef to mutton, thence to veal, and so on 
to a vast acreage of plucked fowls, ducks, and pigeons, flanked by 
little avenues of bulldogs, inferior terriers and spaniels ; hedge- 
hogs, mottled mice, young magpies, tortoises, a prime young 
raven of it may be threescore and ten, and Aylesbury or Rouen 



78 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

ducks, all for sale, dead or alive. Babbits, yellow, mottled, 
white with pink eyes, black, grey, dun, and wild, are crowded in 
coops, together with a vicious monkey, a rare singing lark, and a 
blackbird who considers five a.m. midday, and makes the 
avenues of the market ring again. Here are parrots, paroquets, 
and, as I live, two tame kingfishers. Opposite are crates of live 
" hoopers" and other swans ; close by a peacock and his mate, 
two Cornish choughs with their bills and legs looking like Eoake 
and Varty's office sealing-wax. I can have any bird, beast, or 
reptile for my money, and a pert shopboy with a tin botanising 
case under his arm asks me if I " can do anything in snakes." 

Here I see a "store cage" full of quails, with their sudden fate 
before them ; for a journeyman poulterer is killing and plucking 
them one by one. just as the poor French victims were drawn for 
slaughter in the Eeign of Terror. As I brash past him, his large 
ooarse hand is grappling for a fresh victim amongst the fluttering 
group ; before I am out of sight, it is selected, dead, and half- 
naked, liked those trussed and vine-leaved on the shelf beside the 
living birds. 

Here I see tame squirrels, dormice, a solemn horned owl, two 
jackdaws, and a half-callow nest of young thrushes gaping and 
showing their yellow throats. Here are two storks from 
Holland, and long-coated white kittens drinking ' London milk ;" 
further on. a bowl of gold and silver fish, with little portable 
globes, each furnished with an indiarubber covering, for conve- 
nience of transit. And here, in the main street. I come upon the 
yellow Hansom waiting me, and, to his surprise, I give him his 
next order '' Billingsgate !" 

We trot down empty Gracechurch-street and I catch a glimpse 
of Lombard-street, which is a silent waste, save that in one place 
a knot of artlzans, with their inseparable saws and flag baskets, 
are grouped round a bank under repairs ; and now and then we 
come upon various operatives walking briskly to their work. 

King William-street is pretty well filled with costermongers, 
and around the base of the Monument they swarm like bees. I 
am now sensible of a smell of dried fish, and, in the street of that 
name, I mentally eschew fish for ever. 

Here the cab is blocked, and I walk on as well as I may 
through " fellowship porters," bales of shrimps, and vast covered 
and open vans, all ready to start north, south, east, and west, to 
feed the provinces. I turn to my right, and I am in the roar and 
confusion of Billingsgate. 



EARLY MORNING IN LONDON. 79- 

I pass heaps upon heaps of dried fish, shrimps shot up in 
stacks like barley in a barn, and a vast rockwork of black lobsters 
and sea weed. Here are ships on the Thames discharging 
whiting, cod, soles, turbot, and long boxes of salmon, which I 
shortly after see unpacked, frozen hard in ice. One part of the 
market is set apart for flat fish another for monsters in shell 
armour. Steamers from Ireland and Scotland. Norway, and 
various "foreign parts" are lying off; and here a gentleman in a 
white hat and waterproof (the latter resembling armour, so 
covered is it with scales) is holding a rapid auction. 

' Now then," I hear him say, " Now then, you mackerel- 
buyers, come on ; and you that don't want 'em, don't block the 
way you're stopping business." 

Then the crates of boiled crabs and lobsters came along the 
corridors, filling the air with steam ; and as I neared the main 
avenue there was more crowding and crushing and confusion 
over again ; the porters shouting, or I should say singing, as they 
carried and balanced four or five boxes on their heads, " Hoi ! 
Hoi ! can't you hear?" 

At seven a.m. I left London Bridge, in an atmosphere as clear 
as Italy ; but the silence of morning was over, and already the 
streets swarmed with people, and chiefly brewers' drays or water- 
carts. By the time I had reached Oxford-street the servants 
were beating the mats against the lamp-posts, and horses were 
exercising in their clothing. The unhappy "companions" (ladies 
of small means) were out airing their mistresses' pugs and 
spaniels ; fat animals they seemed, and troubled with the vapours. 
The chaffcutters were going their rounds, and hay, grass, and 
vetches were coming in. 

7.45. The early risers are on their hacks, and making for 
Eotten-row ; and I pass open windows and witness early break- 
fasts as I near the suburbs. 

Twice I observe a cluster, even thus early, around Punch and 
Judy, and in the last case I stop to see the favourite " dog 
scene," which proves a complete success. Yet the man who 
comes to me with the red decanter-stand tells me " He ain't been 
long at it ; but then," he adds, with a confidential wink, "ain't 
he cunning, that's all ! We calls him Gladstone all he wants is 
temper!" 

As I turn round I see a crowd gathering round a large iron girder, 
which, in turning a street-corner, had broken a window in the 
High-street of Notting-hill. What a flock of people gather 



$0 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

together in a few seconds, where four hours ago all was desolate! 
I with difficulty thread my way through them, and passing the 
street of villas, (poached eggs and spinach), reach home in time 
for breakfast. 

"Hullo! I say! where's my handkerchief ?" Gone. 



THE EARTHSTOPPER. 81 



PAPER X. 

THE EARTHSTOPPER. 

I WAS brought up with niy brother in Leicestershire (there were 
but two of us) to a thorough practical acquaintance with every 
country pursuit. Ours formed the centre of four estates, and niy 
father and his neighbours were on the best of terms. We all 
preserved our foxes, and we shot the outsides of our manors no 
harder than the best coverts. 

The second son always entered the army, and I was to form no 
-exception to the rule ; so I had my seven years of it. got my 
troop, and sold out. I passed a few years on the Continent, and 
finished with a few months' shooting in Algeria, when I made up 
my mind to try the United States : and after some good sport in 
pursuit of ruffed grouse in the Eastern States, I had even the 
luck, before setting sale for England, to have a very pretty hand- 
to-hand encounter with a bear. 

I landed in Liverpool early in July, and reached our Leicester- 
shire home the following morning, to find my poor old father 
almost at the point of death. As I entered the room he turned 
his head languidly on his pillow, and scanned me for some minutes 
with a puzzled look. His mind had been wandering for some 
days, and before the partial paralysis of his brain had affected 
his reason, he had expressed himself most anxiously as to my 
future prospects. 

" I should have left him.'" he said, as they explained to me, 
" the property I bought since his mother's death, but he will be 
too heavy to ride in a grass country. He is three stone heavier 
than his brother, and he can go very respectably in a vale country 
with any of them ; so I shall leave him mv money in the Funds, 
and when I am gone he can buy a place for himself. ' 

Having satisfied himself apparently as to my identity, he opened 
his hand, which lay languidly on the pillow, and fixed his eyes 
upon my face. As I took his hand in mine, he moved his lips as 
though to give me some recognition or to express some wish, but 
I could not make out his meaning. However, I understood from 

o 



82 THE LDSTOICE PAPERS. 

the physician who put his ear to ray father's lips, that it had 
some reference to my weight. He did not live long after this. 

A few months after his death my brother and I went up to 
London to inquire among the estate agents for a property likely 
to meet my wishes. It was in consequence of an interview with 
the very blandest estate agent, I should say, in the whole metro- 
polis, that I ran down to a western county to inspect an estate, 
within reach, he told me, of four packs of " 'ouns ;"' and it was 
whilst I made my mental notes of Erse water that I formed an 
acquaintance with the old Earthstopper. 

I had satisfied myself that the place, though retired, was pretty 
much to my liking, and that the old residence, although anything 
but large enough, was comfortable in the main. The stables and 
loose boxes were airy, roomy, well-drained and ventilated, and 
I was especially taken with a room adjoining the stables, used by 
the former occupant as a lathe-room, gunroom, and study all 
combined. It had one especial recommendation to me. It was 
nearly all windows, and consequently very light, and it looked 
down one of the most charming valleys I think I ever saw. I 
therefore sent for a couple of hunters which had been my father's, 
and which were left me in a codicil expressing his satisfaction 
that they " had plenty of bone below the knee, and good backs, 
and were therefore equal to my weight," and determined to see 
what one of the four packs of hounds was like, and whether I 
could go respectably in this western county. 

I had about seven miles to ride to the meet from my hotel, the 
Bed Lion, on a dry and rather dusty day, and I had completed 
about five of them, when I could observe the huntsman and his 
pack and whips jogging along at a leisurely pace about a mile 
ahead, and I was able to keep them well in view almost all the 
way until we reached the covert side. Perhaps fifty or sixty 
were assembled when I reached it, and the master, on his blood 
chesnut, came up just behind me. He was just the weight to 
kave pleased my father about nine stone ; but I think my 
parent would, for his failing in that respect, have cut off the 
huntsman with a shilling. 

Several of the nondescript pedestrians usually present at every 
meet were smoking or lounging about the fence of the covert, but 
one only attracted my attention. This was a thin, active, white- 
haired man of perhaps sixty or more, in height about 5ft. lOin. 
He had a thin aquiline nose, a keen pair of grey eyes, a pro- 
minent chin and thin lips, and a most shrewd, intelligent 



THE EAETHSTOPPEB. 83 

expression. He was dressed in what evidently had been a forest- 
green long skirted keeper's coat of plush or velveteen, but it 
had faded in a general way to a dull olive. His waistcoat, 
evidently a cast-off from the servants' hall, was of red cloth or 
kerseymere, and he wore leggings up to his thighs. He carried a 
light strong spade upon his shoulder, and was. I observed, noticed 
by the master as he rode past me, with a smile and some good- 
natured observation. 

A few late men, including a pink exquisite of the first water 
and a very long melancholy farmer, were the only additions as 
the hounds were sent into covert and we drew it blank. We 
drew three coverts, one a large one, with the same result. 

I then observed a short conference between the master and my 
friend with the spade, ending in our making for a middling-sized 
gorse on the side of a hill, from which, on the other side of a 
narrow lane, we looked into a valley of grass land, with a brook 
about eight feet wide dividing two estates. I saw the old Earth- 
stopper (for such he was) making for a knoll about a quarter of a 
mile to my left, and keenly observing the hounds, which began 
drawing with increased activity, and occasionally plunging over 
the gorse, and then showing nothing but their sterns. As they 
neared the further corner one or two gave tongue, when I observed 
my old acquaintance crouched down to a level with a bush which 
obscured him from view. At the same moment the whole pack 
opened, and the Earthstopper, taking off his hat, gave such a 
view holloa as I think I never heard before. 

The pack flew the bank that inclosed the gorse, in scattered 
order, and scrambled down the steep incline for the valley as best 
they could ; but, once over- the lane, they raced sterns down for 
their fox, literally like a flock of pigeons. 

I got down the bank and dropped into the lane as gently as I 
could, and had scarcely time to do so when the master's rough 
rider, on a brown thorough-bred, took the lane in his stride, and 
before I could follow him into the field beyond, he was gathering 
himself together for the water jump, which the master's chestnut 
and he cleared abreast. I should say we had about ten minutes 
at a slapping pace (which tailed off the boys and trousers, but 
could not shake off the pink exquisite and the long farmer), 
when the fox turned to the right, and made for a fir plantation, 
and very soon after the hounds threw up. 

As I knew it was a case of open earth or a drain, I was in no 
hurry, and observed the Earthstopper close at my girths. 

G 2 



84 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

"Just what I told the Squire," he observed, touching his hat ; 
" these keepers never will stop 'em out anything like workmen." 
And as we had reached the earth by this time. I could see the 
huntsman dismounted and the master coming up. 

" Oh, yes, dig him, Bertie," said the master as the Earth- 
stopper threw off his olive plush and went on his knees to 
scrutinise the earth. 

"Not very far in, master," was his quiet observation, as a 
smooth white terrier, which had been barking in there out of 
sight, came out for a little fresh air, and was seized by the old 
Earthstopper before he could honourably inter himself again. 

Fifteen or twenty years ago a game, active, handsome, willing 
fox-terrier was by no means a common thing. In the south of 
England you might meet with one occasionally just as you might 
drop upon a light airy hack, or a strong, handsome, elastic pony ; 
but it was almost impossible to get possession of such a dog as 
the old man had with him. A black-nosed, black-eyed and foxy- 
faced varmint-looking fellow, perhaps little over a dozen pounds 
in weight, with a hard, impenetrable coat, straight legs, a 
famous loin, and ears small, round, ' and dropping close to his 
head, and nearly as thin as bank-notes. A few blue-black mottles 
on his cheeks, and black ears, were the only exceptions to his 
white colour, and he was smooth enough until he was excited by 
being sent to ground, and even now, at a word from his master, 
he was content ; and although he still kept up his hackles, he sat 
down moderately patient, venting his curiosity by listening 
intently with his head on one side, for an}- evidence of a move in 
the earth below him. The old man called him " Denny," I 
remember, and said he was given to him by a gentleman at 
Dennington. near Barnstaple, which accounted for his form and 
quality, both of which would have satisfied even the fastidious 
taste of the fox-terrier breeder of the day I may as well say 
at once of Mr. Wootton. 

" A good thing he passed that breeding earth above, by the 
little vale, or we should have had a night's work," said Bertie ; 
" but he isn't more than six feet in this time." And without more 
words he set himself to shovel away the steep bank, and in 
about twenty minutes we were handy to our fox. 

The huntsman then took the spade and opened the mouth a 
good deal, and we could see just the tip of his brush. A little 
more digging and he seized the brush firmly with his left hand, 
and ran his right hand up the fox's back, then took him firmly by 



THE EAETHSTOPPEE. 85 

the poll, let go the brush, had him by the hind legs, and drew 
him from his hiding-place in an instant. 

All this time the hounds were kept away some considerable 
distance by the master and his whips, and, although they were 
perfectly acquainted with the whole matter, their discipline, 
which was excellent, prevented their attempting to interfere. 

The old Earthstopper, I observed, had taken a small billhook 
from his pocket, and quickly made a small fagot with two bonds. 
This he pushed into the earth with his foot, observing at the 
same time, " It isn't that it's wanted there ; but if these keepers do 
look round between this and Christmas, they will see how earths 
should be stopped next time." 

The huntsman gave the fox some law, hoping he would take to 
the water meadows again ; but he made for the same covert, and 
nearly reached the breeding earth by the oak tree when they 
pulled him down. 

When his head was hung to the huntsman's saddle, and his 
pads and brush were distributed, and the hounds had broken 
him up. I saw the master and several who had now come up, 
giving their small silver to my friend the Earthstopper ; and, as I 
never liked a two o'clock fox. I determined to turn towards home. 

I never was good at finding my way in a strange country, and 
so I did as the others did to old Bertie, and asked him to show 
me the way. This he did cheerfully, and after a few minutes 
conversation it came out that he lived in one of the cottages 
belonging to the estate, which (to make a long story short) I 
eventually purchased. 

As my horse was rather out of condition, and a slow pace best 
suited both of us that pleasant evening, I gathered as much 
information from this intelligent old man as I could, and so 
present it to my readers. 

" An earthstopper ? Well," he said, "I have been doing it 
about ten years. I was a keeper before that, and," he added, 
with a sly twinkle of his eye, " a poacher and all sorts." He 
told me that he had six children. " And eight shillings a week 
isn't much." he said, "when you have a shilling a week for 
rent, and shoes to buy; though I can't deny," he continued. "I 
had a good garden, and turf for the cutting it : but then I had 
to take a bushel of wheat (tailing or chicken wheat) all the year 
round at a certain price. So I used now and then to knock a 
rabbit out of his form ; and then I took to wiring them. I 
generally had a net in my pocket which I used to clap over the 



86 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

bolthole in a furzebush ; then I used to tap the other end with 
my hand, and bang, in goes the rabbit. I let the pheasants 
alone for perhaps a twelvemonth, because I couldn't get a gun, 
and I did pretty well at them, when I got one. I used to watch 
them up at roost, you know, and I generally knew where the 
keepers were. I never sent them knocking round the pot. I 
used to sell them to the carrier. I got 2s. for a good cock 
pheasant, or Is. 6d. But I got caught at last. I was coming 
home with my gun in my pocket and a fagot on my back but 
the fagot was only a blind when I saw in a bare larch tree on 
the road side three pheasants all just got up. I let fly at the 
one lowest down, and not one moved ; but an old pied bird flew 
out of a Scotch fir where the shots rattled in ; and I, innocent 
like, had put my gun down and was feeling for iny bottle of 
gunpowder and pipe to load again, when out pounced the keeper 
and his watcher, and I see it was all a plant. Bless you ! the 
birds was only idols " (the name given by poachers to imitation 
pheasants). " They took me to the Squire, and I up and told 
him I couldn't live. Well, he's a rough way with him ; but he 
says : ' If I forgive you shooting at my pheasants ' ' I beg your 
pardon, sir,' I says, ' they was idols.' 'Well,' he says, 'idols if 
you like. If I forgive you and take you on at twelve shillings 
and a cottage, will you let the game alone ? ' ' Yes. sir,' I said ; 
and I did it. I was there under-keeper the last ten years, and 
then the manor was let, and now I go hedge-trimming ; and I 
make these heath brooms, and I cut turf for firing, and I mow 
in harvest, and I work in the woods make hurdles and so on 
and I do the earthstopping over this manor and the next. But 
Lord," he said, " half the keepers know nothing of a fox. You 
know you ought to stop foxes out of their earths altogether from 
cub-hunting until March. It's no use stopping them with clods. 
You should make a little fagot and put in the hole. If you stop 
a fox in, he will dig himself out. There's no fear of that ; but 
I generally take my little terrier. He's very clever, and if there's 
a fox in he will bark. Generally I have a line on him, because 
then he can't stop in, for once he kept barking (in a breeding 
earth he was) for four whole hours. I know every earth round 
here. The breeding earths have been used for hundreds of 
years. I believe the badgers make them. There's a chamber at 
the end, and a larder, and all sorts ; and if you were to bring a 
fox from a hundred miles away, when he got to the covert, he 
would go to the earths as natural as if he was born there, and 



THE EARTHSTOPPER. 87 

knew his way to them. If you stop them out, you will always 
find a fox will lay in some place where the wind can't get to him 
nor leaves fall on him, such as a pit, or on the top of a dry 
hedge. If he has been travelling all night, and there comes a 
storm at three or four in the morning, he won't go to earth if 
there are twenty earths open, not till he is clean, any more than 
you would go into a room with dirty boots. I have dug many a 
fox," he said. "Did you see the huntsman draw that one? 
Well, I can't draw one like that, though that's the proper way. 
I gives him a stick to bite, and pulls it from him, then I dab on 
his poll ; but the right" way is as the huntsman did it. I do all 
sorts of things for a living, and this is one. All the best time of 
the year for it I catch goldfinches, linnets, bullfinches, and some- 
times woodlarks, for the London markets ; and I trap the moles, 
and I keep about four or five ferrets and some terriers, and go 
rat-catching for the farmers. / does it the right way. My dogs 
watches the boltholes." 

By this time we reached the main road leading to my village 
inn. so, after receiving very minute directions as to my road and 
filling his pipe for him, I turned to trot on, but he had one word 
more to say. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," he said, " but if you should like to 
have, a, good goldfinch quite a star," he added "he does the 
whittle so blink, and choulmy, chonlmy, chay ; and now and then 
does suck, suck, chai/ t all in one run! " I thanked him for his 
courtesy, but declined to accept " the star." 

Subsequently, when I left the inn for the new manor, I took 
him on as a trapper, and he was the very best I ever saw. The 
way he caught an old otter quite surprised me by its cleverness 
and simplicity ; but of this another time. 



88 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPEK XI. 

THE SHOOTING PONY. 

I RECOLLECT, many years ago, that I saw in a print shop at 
Oxford an engraving of the Waterloo Marquis of Anglesea shoot- 
grouse from the back of his pony on the moors. He is repre- 
sented in that work of art as having turned nearly round in his 
saddle, and dropping his second bird, whilst his clean, well-bred 
pony stands motionless, with the single rein of a thick snaffle 
bridle hanging on his neck. 

Though the old nobleman left his leg behind him a little beyond 
Brussels, he never gave up his inbred love for English sports : 
and I am told, by those who have seen him do it, that it was 
worth something to see him handle his yacht in a stiff gale of 
wind, and to witness his activity and pluck, though one of his 
legs was made of cork. 

Where there is a true feeling for sport, nothing extinguishes, 
and few things can deaden it. They used to tell me that I should 
think less of a good setter team, a patient and 'cute retriever, 
and a fine scenting morning, when I had come to years of dis- 
cretion : but the feeling for sport is as strong in me now as ever, 
although the snows of winter are gathering upon my head, and 
the grey hairs are pushing aside the brown ones. 

Nothing checks a true sportsman so long as he can move about, 
either on his own legs or borrowed ones. Near sight can be got 
over by the aid of glasses, unless the fates send mist and drizzling 
rain ; and some of the best shots that I have seen get on their 
bird, and drop him, by the assistance of what are irreverently 
called "gig-lamps." 

Heavy professional engagements, "lots of work," eminence in 
law, physic, or div stop ! I am going a little too far eminence in 
law or physic, none of these things stamp out the love of sport ; 
and if you could throw a net over the Highlands in August, you 
would catch nine-tenths of the genius and glory of Great Britain. 

Time tells it tale with many a would-be sportman, however, 
before he can throw care to the winds and do his work by deputy, 



THE SHOOTING PONY. 89" 

or dare the criticism of clients who would grant no rest cer- 
tainly no sport to a wearied mind. And, as Anno Domini is no 
respecter of persons, old squires fall under his influence at last, 
and limp along painfully over the swedes and rape and clover 
seed, which they see coming again young, green, and fresh as 
ever, whilst they are growing old and feeble. 

I don't like to see young men with a shooting pony in the field 
behind the guns, unless there is a very wide stretch of " the- 
enemy's country" intersecting the morning's beat; but a genuine 
good safe walker, which you can shoot from if need be. is a great 
acquisition under certain circumstances, and especially in the 
Highlands, where you may leave off sport (or have it cut off for 
you by atmospheric interference fog. mist, and so on) when you 
are perhaps many miles from home. 

The ponies and gillies, with the afternoon setters in couples 
especially the thick-set cob which carries the luncheon pannier 
and the flagon form a very interesting tableau indeed at half- 
past one. and you experience a decided feeling of animation as 
the indistinct group, standing sharp against the sky line on that 
heather}' knoll, resolves itself into a little clan of adherents as 
you approach them, and you speculate as to what viands they 
are placing in order on the ground, and whether there is a really 
cold spring close by. 

After doing the Turkish bath upon some trying ground (espe- 
cially without quite enough sport to satisfy you) when there is 
but half a mile between the muzzle of your gun and the game 
pie and cold tongue when the dogs are called in to heel, and 
you hand over your gun to an attendant until after luncheon 
the excitement gone, and nothing for it but to reach the rendez- 
vous under a scorching sun, you don't lift and free your foot 
quite so gingerly; and, if I mistake not, provided a Scotch shelty 
rubbed his nose against you, you would pat his neck and climb 
into the saddle. 

As a man gets old and stiff about the knees, when after a try- 
ing walk through high swedes his legs feel like two posts, he 
inclines more and more to put his hand in his pocket ami pur- 
chase a shooting pony. He is acted upon by the same impulse 
which prompts a Liverpool merchant to give a stinging price for 
good dogs. Let him have the luxury, and he does not care to 
remember what it cost him ; and, as the supply is never in this 
case equal to the demand, cobs and ponies fit by nature and art 
for the shooting ground have realised outrageous prices. 



'90 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

It is hardly necessary to say that such an animal must be the 
most perfect of its kind, possessing inens sana in corpore S(tno. 
There must be no vice nor lameness, the constitution must be 
hardy, the eyes good, the temper docile, or it is useless. Then 
you must have strength and activity. One that warps and twists 
under the saddle that can't walk without effort through deep 
or (as they call it in Oxfordshire) a " loving " ground that 
can't carry you up a bank, and creep down on the opposite side, 
or push through a quickset and jump off is not the animal for 
a heavy man. 

I have had animals suited for the gun in every respect save 
nerve. I never tried so hard as with one I got out of Wiltshire, 
a grey, up to twenty stone if you liked so to weight him, and 
with that light, corky action which makes your seat on him easy 
as sitting in an arm-chair ; but he never would get over the 
terror of firearms, although I tried everything but Barey's dodge, 
which at that time was not known. If I got off his back and 
tied him up, as I took a morning shot at the ducks, when I re- 
turned to the fir tree to which he was fastened I found him in a 
lather, and the ground scraped and trampled as far as the chain 
permitted. Getting on his back with the offensive weapon in my 
hand was out of the question, and as long as I had him I was 
compelled to lay my Westley Eichards on the branches of the 
Scotch firs, and take it off them as I rode him by. And then, 
when thus cajoled into carrying it, we had a a fine caper or two 
for the first hundred yards, and a sideways dance on unpleasant 
ground, with the prospect of a little rearing, which he could do 
as well as any brute I ever bought too dear. 

I tried a bit of powder and a pistol for some weeks, but all in 
vain. They tell me cavalry horses are thus brought to bear the 
report, the pistol being fired at feeding time. With him it was 
an economical arrangement, as after hearing it he would not 
touch his corn for hours. 

I have dropped upon two in nay lifetime which gave no trouble 
at all, but submitted to the gun at once. In both cases I got on 
them, and after riding a mile or so I snapped off the gun, loaded 
with a little powder, and they took no notice. I then got bolder 
and shot off a few times with a full charge ; and in the evening 
the first (a grey) was made. 

An old gentleman, who advertised for such a quadruped in the 
Field, gave me fifty pounds for him, and liked him so well that 
two or three years after he wrote to me for another ; but he 



THE SHOOTING PONY. 91 

miglit as well have ordered a sonnet, for it was the merest chance 
I had him. 

Another I got by a fluke. It was a brown one, which at five 
years old had been taken in off the common by one of our 
farmers, and hawked about at a neighbouring fair. He brought 
him to me in desperation because " the keep was short," and 
begged me to "ride him a trial, and buy him at a bad price." 
Eleven pounds he cost me not dear for a five-year-old that 
trotted and cantered five miles to a friend's manor without falter- 
ing, with nothing to support nature but what he got on a heath. 
and at night came home over the dips and ruts and fallows 
without making a blunder ; and that in a week was carrying 
T(),000/. a year amongst his deer and " buffaloes.-" and standing 
still enough for the double rifle to good service and not "' spoil 
the haunch." 

The first thing you want in a shooting pony is docility. A 
narrow, hammer-headed, calf-kneed, flat-sided brute, whose tail 
springs about a foot above his hocks, will answer the purpose if 
he has the disposition required ; and from such a wretch, if he 
has a gallop in him, a keeper might shoot a Chillingham bull. 
It is surprising what some half-kept, rough, lean keepers' ponies 
will do, and how they can go and carry their masters, in defiance 
of all our rules for make and shape. Upright shoulders, short 
back ribs, cow hocks, short necks, weak withers I have seen all 
these defects admirably (?) combined in a keeper's pony, which, if 
he had form and substance, would have been cheap at " three 
figures;" and this anatomical specimen would carry sixteen stone 
from morning until night, his master said, with ease. I don't 
suppose his owner ever gave the matter consideration, or reflected 
whether his nag was good-looking or not. He took the saddle 
.and bridle off him when he returned from a hard day, and he 
could go to the barley straw and help himself. The next morning 
his old grey would probably be looking over the garden wicket, 
ready to salute the old keeper with a loud neigh as he came out 
to bridle him ; and I have seen venerable Jones send his rusty 
retriever to herd him back when he had strayed beyond the 
confines of that old homestead on the moor. 

Of course a man of taste likes beauty to be combined with 
excellence, and of all things a shooting pony confessedly the 
pet of the country house should be a model of symmetry, and 
the pattern of cheerfulness and good humour. You like to see 
him stretching his neck over the wire fencing that keeps him in 



92 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

the paddock and out of the flower garden, and walking side by 
side with your wife or daughter, only separated by that slight 
barrier, and to be certain that he will take that delicate fragment 
of breakfast roll from those taper fingers with quiet, and I might 
say almost gentlemanly, grace. All the better if the children can 
hang to his tail or examine his hind feet without danger, and if 
the eldest boy of eight and three-quarters can ride him bridleless, 
with that precious piece of daily and nightly vexation in long 
clothes carried in front of him like a patent waterproof. 

I have seen good Irish, Scotch, Exmoor, New Forest, and 
Norwegian ponies : but certainly there are not the number, nor 
do they possess the quality, which prevailed thirty years ago. At 
that date you hardly went into the yard of a flourishing agri- 
culturist but he asked you first "what you would take?" and next 
whether you would like to see a good pony ; and from out of 
some rough stable came such an one as now you scarce find out of 
London nor in it. 

But supposing that you light on "the very thing." with an 
Arab head the most graceful of all forms of head to my mind, 
especially when surmounted with large or moderately large ears, 
well earned a long-necked one, with legs like a cart-horse, and 
open feet large enough to prevent difficulties in spongy ground ; 
with deep shoulders, sloping backwards, and a round barrel and 
quarters ; broad across the hips, muscular in the thigh, long 
from his hip to his hock, with pasterns long and strong, and 
moderately oblique : with the disposition of a Newfoundland dog. 
hardy enough to lie out all weathers, as he ought, and with that 
safe action which gives you confidence in him before you have 
ridden him twenty yards ; ready to draw the basket carriage or 
bear the luncheon panniers, or convey an invalid son or daughter 
for an hour's airing in the October sun ; and that from indisposi- 
tion or idleness, or want of health and power, your shooting 
depends upon this conveyance, it is as well to be provided with 
the " et-cetera " necessary for the work. If a man wants a 
very easy seat, he must have one of those padded abominations 
called " a somerset ;" but, from the redundancy of padding, they 
do not enable you to turn quite so easily as the plain saddle, 
provided it is roomy and large enough in the seat. 

If a man wants a shooting saddle in the south, he requires it 
ten times more in the north, and so it should be fitted, if need be. 
for carrying a deer. 

Therefore behind, on each side of the saddle, and seven inches 



THE SHOOTING PONY. 93 

apart, are two dees (each one incli wide), and to these may be 
attached a strap on each side about eight feet long ; then there 
should be a strong dee in front of the saddle on each side of the 
breastplate staples in the skirt of the saddle, for a carbine bucket 
and strap ; and a small bag should hang on each side of the 
saddle behind the flaps, which will carry a flask or a sandwich 
case if need be. 

As the ground is often steep, this saddle should be provided 
with a crupper. If it is desired to carry hobbles they may be 
attached to a ring behind the saddle croup, and they should be 
well padded. 

The breastplate (generally used where deer are expected) 
should be strong, and furnished with a large dee, to which one of 
the straps may be connected in case the big game has to be 
hauled out of a ravine or river. 

If a pony cannot be trusted, he may be tethered by a spike 
something like an elongated mangold wurzel, which is easily 
driven into the ground ; but I think hobbles answer best, and are 
the easiest to carry. Of course all this reads like a complicated 
equipment, and for general purposes little of it is needed ; but I 
think I can produce a shooting bridle which is perfection. 

It is made of brown double webbing, woven, as I imagine, on 
purpose, and the head is constructed like a headstall, so that the 
most artful pony cannot slip his head out of it. A dee in front 
of the noseband enables the gillie to lead the animal without 
hauling at the bit, and he has a long rein at hand by simply un- 
fastening the spring hooks by which the reins are attached to the 
ring snaffle. There is also a sliding dee on the hand-piece of the 
bridle, and a spring hook on the bridle head (off side), by which 
means the bridle can be looped out of the way when the pony is 
hobbled. The fittings are of leather, and the holes for the 
tongues of the buckles are very substantial eyelet holes, neatly 
put in with collars. I shall be happy to send the pattern to any- 
one who desires to see it, or to supply them with the address of 
the maker. 



94 THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 



PAPER XII. 

WHISTLE AND WHIP. 

SOME years ago I would drive any number of miles to see a good 
fiddle, especially if it was " in the market " let it be " Amati's," 
" Strad.'s," "Joseph's," or even " Peter's " make. The wretched 
wonders I have seen on some of these occasions, wrapped by their 
infatuated possessors in flannel shrouds and cased in birds-eye 
maple coffins, with seven-guinea locks and ten-guinea bows, and 
yet no tone ! 

Well, let that pass. I would go a good distance to get a good 
dog-whistle now, provided I had not got one ; and without further 
preface I plunge into my subject, which once on a time, (nay, 
more than once), by way of apology I may add, inspired the 
spirit of Burns. 

There are plenty of men who will tell you any whistle would 
do, and that you might get one for sixpence at the first gun- 
maker's you passed in every little provincial town ; and I am not 
going to argue with these wiseacres. We (the enlightened 
British public who read our Field) know better. I never 
graduated at the rough and ready school ; the best is always just 
good enough for me, and, what is more, it is cheapest in the end. 

I don't know anything more perplexing than a weak, thin, 
sharp whistle on a very wind)' day, or one that gets choked up, 
or in which the " pea " (as it is called both in this instrument 
and when under one or more of three thimbles, though it never 
is a pea) gets blocked and won't rattle ; whilst your dog, a trifle 
wild and uncontrollable, and which never saw you till yesterday 
evening since last season, scours after the old shepherd in the 
distance, who is waving with both arms to his 'cute colley, and 
looks more like a telegraph post than a Highland herdsman as 
he is. 

More than once, shooting with a man who liked his own way 
and his own whistle, and persisted in giving impotent blasts with 
his toy, I have rejoiced to know that its wheezing note never 
reached my setters, and that it amused him and did not interfere 



WHISTLE AKD WHIP. 95 

with me; but when, in accordance with human infirmities, I have 
put on a fresh coat and found myself ten miles from home 
without this ivory dependent from my buttonhole, I have wished 
that my servant's, which he handed me as a substitute, were as 
good as mine for that day only but it never is. 

Contrary to the assurances of men who speak at random, and 
who are positive in proportion, I repeat the assertion that to get 
a good instrument is not an easy thing. 

I never saw a boatswain's whistle but once. It was. if I 
remember aright, a silver thing, between a surgical instrument 
and a cigar-tube, with two or three holes flutewise in the centre, 
and, when blown, it emitted most dismal and unmelodious sounds. 
The fault may have been in the performer (myself) ; for the 
shopkeeper, in whose window I saw it suspended at Portsmouth, 
affected total ignorance of its capabilities, and seemed to think 
that in my hands a little of it went a great way, for he said 
something about having a sick wife upstairs ; so I declined the 
bargain, and most likely it hangs by the ticket in his window 
still. 

I was led to look at it from having read in some work on dog- 
breaking that the author had got his dogs to range when he blew 
one note, and to come in when he sounded another ; and, whilst 
with all submission I don't think this feasible, it occured to me 
that one of the notes the boatswain used might, and probably 
would, be very shrill and piercing, and that it would be worth 
while to try. To my surprise, the notes were poor and husky 
and, in short, it wouldn't do. 

I tried the Burlington Arcade. There I saw tassels of whistles 
of all kinds gold, silver, torquoised, gemmed, double-tongued, 
single-tongued, ivory, pewter, brass, and wood. One of the most 
obliging shopmen I ever saw handed them to me by the gross, 
whilst a dark-eyed partner, with his back to me and his face 
towards a resplendent mirror, was able to see clearly that none of 
them went astray. 

For cab calls or ladies' favourites they were excellent, no doubt, 
but no dog of mine could have heard them on the moor, as he 
went lashing his stern and his feather blowing in the breeze of 
an exposed and wild Scotch hill ; and I extended my pilgrimage 
towards the Strand. 

As I walked that way and gave a cursory glance at the shop- 
windows, proclaiming myself deeply imbued with rusticism, the 
drivers of Hansoms naturally thought I had lost my way, and 



96 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

seemed to fish for me with their whips. J had nearly made up 
my mind to commit myself to one of them who followed me 
pertinaciously, when I saw a range of something like whistles in 
an optician's window. I could hardly believe it possible, for 
there was an ' electricity" look about them, and I should have as 
soon expected to see the whistle, pure and simple, hanging 
amongst the gloves at Houbigant's, or lying on the marble slab 
with the fish at Groves's. 

It was a fat brass instrument, with an ivory mouthpiece and a 
sort of bell attachment, acting, I suppose, on the principle of the 
old pulpit sounding board, which, after the lapse of centuries, 
some one pronounced useless, when people tried without it and 
gave it up. I fully expected that the sound of it would collect 
the police and fire engines, but on trial it was by no means 
powerful ; its din would be more likely to scare a dog away than 
bring him to me ; and, for aught I know, the optician is still able 
to see his whistle without using one of his telescopes. 

I could find nothing new no improvement upon the old form, 
provided you fell in with a good one and my whistle-beating in 
London streets was time thrown away. 

There were many gunmakers who exhibited them in their 
shops ; but I did not care to go into their plate-glass repositories 
for so trifling an errand as a sixpenny whistle, when they would 
scarce open the door for my exit if I bought less than a pair 
of breech-loaders and gave my cheque (and reference) for three 
figures. 

I might have braved their coolness and disappointment all of 
which, remember, may be my pure imagination had I seen 
anything very new or very promising ; but I did not, so I came 
away as I went. And then it occurred to me that I would get 
the best whistle I could at as many shops as possible, keeping to 
the old-fashioned shapes and style. I would get good, rattling, 
loud whistles the best I could anywhere and try them with a 
dog that turned well, on wild moor, in woodland and covert, and 
tinder all varieties of the atmosphere. I would see what a dog 
answered to best I mean what musical note, and of what size, 
pitch, and material the whistle should be. 

No sooner said than done, and I purchased half a dozen accord- 
ingly. I try a few experiments myself with a piece or two of 
elephant's tusk and my lathe ; but I find as yet the professional 
ivory turner beats me, though I hope to make something as good 
as his. 



WHISTLE AND WHIP. 97 

The note I find best adapted for the purpose is D in the treble ; 
next to that G, but D in the treble is the best. 

With a round bit of cork in it (the best are absolutely round, 
and very slightly greased or oiled) this is the most piercing, 
shrill, and audible pitch of any that I have tried ; and whilst we 
must not forget, according to scientific " patter," that " some 
ears perceive sounds emanating from vibrations a little beyond 
the extremes to which the perception of other ears is confined," 
if we get that instrument which the generality of dogs and men 
hear best, we shall not be far wrong. 

Generally the dog has to contend with the wind when you 
whistle for him. and this is to him a great disadvantage. You 
must have a note so distinct, shrill, and yet of such body or 
volume, that it will meet this disadvantage, and the rush of such 
covert as he may be beating over or through. 

In a calm, and without either of these disadvantages, you can 
best at a distance distinguish the bass notes of a band, the stroke 
(not the roll) of the drum best of all ; but I have, from trial, 
concluded that you would against the wind, and with the rustle 
of leaf and heather, or stubble or swede, rape or clover, best 
distinguish the shrill whistle in D. 

The note will be clear in proportion to the excellence of the 
material and the thickness of it, just as in an orchestra the 
leading fiddle is intelligible and clear above the cloud of instru- 
ments, because of its structure and the quality of its wood. 

When we reflect that many an unlucky dog has had his ears 
pulled, been subject to a lot of rating, and that rating sup- 
plemented with a brutal flogging, because he did not turn to a 
whistle which he could not hear, I think we must all conclude 
that, in common fairness to him, we should be careful to give him 
every advantage by using the best procurable instrument. 

Lead, pewter, or whatever it may be at any rate, I can cut 
it with my knife is too dull of sound, and too liable to be 
bruised or bent out of shape ; and, again, it is very heavy, and 
occasionally, in jumping a hedge and so on, dangerous. Ivory, 
I am nearly certain, is the best material, because it admits of 
precision in the manufacture, while, from the fine grain, we get 
the best sound and the most ringing clearness. Tho best whistle 
I could get, the best I ever had, is made of it, and it is light, 
portable, and durable. 

The simple possession of this call in perfection leads me to 
make n few remarks upon its use. 

1! 



98 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

Much depends upon the dog and his breaking. Some well- 
trained dogs, either used for the opea as setters or the covert as 
Clumbers, are always attentive and on the alert for a signal ; 
whilst dogs of high spirit, or young, scatter-brained, and thought- 
less, look upon their work as " a lark." and simply gratify their 
passion for the chase. 

This feeling comes over them when they have ranged a little 
wide. They often forget the consequences of rebellion, and won't 
hear. This error ought to be corrected by a servant, not a 
master. The former should go round the dog and drive him to 
the whistle. He may even correct the dog for his wilfulness 
when he is in hand ; and if he is difficult to catch, he should 
carry not less than twenty-five feet of line upon his collar, or in 
the open, except in rape or turnips, three times that length or 
more. 

After correction, the master should whistle to the dog. not 
loudly, but low, so that the whistle should sound as at the 
distance when it was disregarded ; and the sound should be 
thoroughly impressed upon the dog, who may then be forgiven 
and hunted on. 

It requires patience, temper, and experience to use a whistle 
well. I have, perhaps, none of these decidedly not all of them ; 
but I have attained my end very often without any whip at all, 
watching for my dog to turn, giving him one touch of the 
whistle as he did so, and turning my shoulder from him, when 
the worst dog is more likely to " come" than if you used any 
other means. 

Above all things, not too much music, nor that wearisome 
"Hold up!" "Hold away!" and that woodpecker-like mouth 
whistle which is only fit for the eight-stalled stable. You may 
whistle until the dog is weary of it and you. and will pay no 
attention. A little of it, and take care it is always obeyed and 
followed. If you are always "noising" (as they call it in War- 
wickshire) to the dog, very soon you may as well whistle to a 
hare. With some keepers it seems a relief to their feelings, and 
nothing more like the sibillations of a strapper to a post-horse. 
I have generally found the top buttonhole of the shooting 
jacket the best place to carry it, and that a loop of strong elastic 
is the best material. My breaker, I observe, has his fastened to 
his waistcoat buttonhole, and, I suppose on Conservative prin- 
ciples, uses the "four-in-hand point' 7 which was the favourite 
" whistle cable " of his great grandfather, and which the grand- 



WHISTLE AND WHIP. 99 

son assures n.e will never break. Buckle, the jockey, said this 
of his old stirrup leather, and when, after forty years' service, it 
gave way at last, lost Buckle's employers the stakes, and nearly 
broke the rider's neck, ' he couldn't believe it, as it had carried 
him so long." 

This is a digression ; and as I never did like " harking back," 
but prefer, like the foxhound pack, casting forward rather than 
the harrier's tactics, I will go on to "whips." 

A brutal keeper may tease a dog with a whistle, but he may 
be a monster with the whip. Many a time have I with difficulty 
restrained myself from thrashing a stubborn, ignorant fellow 
belabouring his dog for some blunder of his own. Keepers and 
break ers, as a class, don't do this. They know that the use of 
the whip with young dogs requires the keenest judgment and 
observation, and that once overdo it and the dog is done for. 
If a retriever, he won't fetch ; and once let him see he can do 
this with impunity, and all your blandishments or your barbarity 
have no effect. So with a pointer, ' blinking'' is a sure sign of 
injudicious punishment. It results from the superior power of man 
over a poor wretch he holds in a vice. Any man who knows how 
to handle a dog can, with very little effort, put the poor thing 
at his mercy, and after a very few days' acquaintance few dogs 
will use their teeth, if they are ever so unfairly beaten. 

Jim, or young Adams (the head keeper of Wardour Castle, 
and, let me add, quite as good a breaker as his father, which is 
saying a great deal, though I regret to say he has not time nor 
inclination to undertake the dogs of the public) both these men, 
who are eminent as dog-breakers, can tell you that there is no 
part of a dog's breaking which requires so much calmness, quiet 
well-bred firmness, or self-control as the use of the lash. It 
must be the last resource. It must be always a preventive. 
Sometimes it must fall lightly, producing no pain, and be an 
admonitory signal only. It must never be administered without 
that remonstrance which at school we found so irksome, and 
which always preceded the cuts : to which my nearest relative 
alluded, in the year 18 (well, never mind the fractions; in a 
letter which cost l()rf. postage, and began, as letters at that a^e 
always will. I suppose, with "I hope you are quite well: in which 
document he relieved his feelings by saying he didn't mind 
" taking his cruel," but he " hated the jaw." 

The dog, like the idle schoolboy, has a peculiar distaste for the 
preliminary remonstrance. See how he shivers, and observe the 

H 2 



100 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

nausea of his countenance. I have known dogs limp when they 
saw they had arrived at that tres mauvais quart d'heure ; or, in 
the midst of their master's reproaches, affect to find a thorn in 
their foot, or a flea in some inaccessible part of the back or 
loin. 

How this has called to my remembrance the exquisite torture 
inflicted upon me by a dwarfish master, who, with that calmness 
which mocked my fears, rejoiced to utterly terrify a little urchin 
in linen trousers, dallying with his cane as he looked for what he 
called the ripest parts, where it could descend in a shower of 
blows. I thought I recognised his skeleton the other day in an 
anatomical collection, it was that of so small a man ! and I felt 
almost inclined to put out my hand, that he might "spat " it as 
in days of yore. 

As I have already said, for it will bear repetition, dorit be too 
hard upon a dog. Far better let a fault go by now and then than 
meet every peccadillo red-handed. You can always give the 
flogging you can't undo it. As often as not especially when 
it is a matter of scent the dog is right, the man is wrong, and 
more dogs are ruined with the lash than without it. 

Like Jem Shave and all reflective dog-breakers, flog by 
deputy, if possible. Your executioner flogs without temper 
possibly with a good deal of compunction. 

I am aware that these remarks are about as useful as hints to 
people on fire to roll themselves in a rug, which they never do ; 
or to people when a horse runs away, who generally act like the 
old woman who trusted to Providence until the breeching broke, 
when she jumped out and broke her neck. I risk their not being 
appreciated or followed, and I go on. 

Don't give a lot of blows, but one smart one not that, if you 
can help it. 

Take care, if it is a thin-skinned, light-coated dog, that your 
whip is light. Have one on purpose for such animals ; for rough 
retrievers or heavily plumed setters you want one heavier. 

In some cases you may be more merciful by using a thong 3^in. 
in circumference at the larger end and 18in. long, than by using a 
very light one ; with other dogs it would be monstrous. The 
stick should be at least I2in., so that upraised the dog should see 
it at a distance ; and if the thong be longer than I describe, you 
only hit yourself. 

Knotted thongs don't do ; they break (without wear) and 
become rotten. The lash should consist of three thongs, woven 



WHISTLE AND WHIP. 101 

one round the other cablewise, and woven into one at the point 
and eye. 

The keepers on the stick should be short ; one of them may 
be left two and a half inches longer than the other, and a large 
buttonhole cut in it will enable you to carry it suspended to your 
button at the double, which is far better than hanging it at the 
end of the hap die. I fear I have exhausted my space. At a 
future time I may add " a few more last words." 



102 THE 1DSTOXE PAPERS. 



PAPER XIII. 

OLD TRAPS AND SPRING GUNS. 

SIXCE I wrote an article on "Traps and Calls," I have received 
numerous letters of inquiry through the office of the Field, de- 
siring information on various points connected with the subject, 
which must be my excuse for compiling an unusually dry paper. 

I have always felt a mania for collecting, from the time that I 
was a boy in skeletons, escorted to a day school by an old groom. 
There, in spite of thwacks on the head with lignum vitee rulers, 
and "spats" (as they were called) upon the palm of the hand, 
which sometimes produced festers, and left stripes and weals of 
the colour of mahogany, I could not give up my inclination. 

I began with a collection of birds' eggs, of course, and traded 
principally in those of the house sparrow. I then went into pens 
they were mostly quill pens then and I had a nice arrange- 
ment of the various shapes and forms, from the mastei-piece of 
art fashioned by the writing master, and nibbed on the tip of 
cowhorn always worn in readiness upon his left thumb, to the 
coarse article much preferred, by the way. in one form which 
a now eminent banister used to fashion with a pair of scissors. 
As time went on I ran the gamut of old keys, spoons, cracked 
china, coins, buckles and buttons, pins and brooches, according to 
my age and pocket money. Although the antiquarian business is 
by no means profitable, I still incline that way, and hence my 
collection (not large, it is true, but choice) of old traps fashioned 
for the taking of man and beast. Let it be known that you are 
on the look-out for any " rubbish," and plenty of men will bring 
it to you. At the next market town to the village from which I 
write I have seen a wonderful collection of old Kornan weapons. 
of bronze and other " torques.'' armour, flint and metal celts and 
axe heads, cinerary urns, surgical instruments of old days 
gathered together these by the old-established custom common 
with the higher grade of ' chiffonniers," to let nothing go back, 
but worthless or priceless to purchase at a liberal price, in the 
hope something some day may turn up. 



OLD TRAPS AND SPRING GUNS. 103 

In all matters of collecting I believe I "know the ropes." I 
had but to hold up my hand, and my friends came forward with 
kindness, as I hereby acknowledge with many thanks ; whilst day 
by day I saw some lounger meet me in my stable yard offering 
me an old trap in a handkerchief, or perchance a part of one 
which he had dug up or dredged from the river's floor, and for 
which he '' hoped I shouldn't think sixpence out of the way." 

I had spread a goodly array of these old toils over the floor of 
my den one day, and ' set " them all, so that you must have 
picked your way to get at my writing table, like a poor victim 
amongst the red-hot ploughshares. There they were man traps 
six feet long and more ; fox traps (woe betide the makers of 
them!) large enough to hold a wolf; and then otter traps, 
hawk traps, and little gins for mice when poor old Bertie 
looked in. as he walked by the open door, with that expression 
painters give the fox who is about to enter a hen roost, but is 
uncertain whether it will do or not ; and, putting on an air of 
innocence, he asked me what those large traps with the crooked 
teeth were for. 

" Man traps, Bertie." I answered, scarce looking up, for I 
was running over my banking book, and the balance was the wrong 
way. 

" Oh," he said, walking off. still regarding them with sur- 
prise, and speaking to himself ; " and those smaller ones are, I 
expect, to catch the children." 

I have perplexed myself a good deal with the inquiry when 
these traps were first made. I incline to the opinion that they 
are almost coeval with the pitfall. Man was spoken of as 
'walking upon a snare." and the gin was said to "take him 
by the heel," fifteen hundred years before the Christian era. 
I admit that the Hebrew word used may signify, and does sig- 
nify, a noose, snare, or springe ; but, although the lasso may 
be meant, I do not forget that a painting was discovered at 
Thebes of a hyaena caught by the feet in a metal trap, and 
carried on a pole by two men. Certainly a trap which would 
hold a hyaena would hold a man, and, though he might release 
himself (which I doubt), he would be too much disabled to 
escape. Indeed, I don't think any man caught in one of my man 
traps could possibly get out. His strength would be destroyed 
by the shock, and his muscular power would fail him, just as a 
dog's power goes, supposing that I squeeze his foot. 

I have spun such a barrister-like preamble or " recital," that I 



104: THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

must now proceed to business, and introduce my first trap upon 
the stage. Here it is, sixty pounds of iron according to my German 
scale. It measures 6ft. 7in. from end to end, and each spring is 
2ft. 7in. long As you always find in old traps, the maker was not 
content with a trigger and trigger plate ; he surrounded the jaws 
with a substantial iron frame. There are abundant reasons for 
doing away with this unnecessary addition, but I need give none, 
having merely stated that it is useless, or I may be accused of 
following the example of the Irishman who desired to give old 
Crockford a hundred reasons for not gambling, "Go on, sir/' said 
"old Crock." " First," said the would-be lecturer, " I have no 
money." " Oh !" said old C., " never mind the other ninety-nine." 

This useless frame of substantial wrought iron is nineteen 
inches square. The jaws work in two double studs, each of 
which would, as Shave, the trapmaker, tells me, take a quarter of 
a day to make. The closed jaws reach ten inches above the 
trigger plate, which is nearly a foot square, and each jaw is armed 
with seven spike teeth, an inch and a half long, and so set as to 
tear the flesh of any unhappy struggler. The combined strength 
of the two springs for there is one at each side of the jaws 
pulls at least 5601b., enough to almost sever an ordinary birch- 
wood broom-handle at a blow. 

I have two of these formidable engines, but only one of them 
belongs to me. They were obtained many miles apart one of 
them from the close proximity of Wardour Castle and both 
were marked " J. V." The workmanship is first-rate, and each 
trap must have cost the first owner three or four pounds. 

A few days ago a very large, powerful "frame trap," made 
doubtless for wild and martin cats, was brought to me, bearing 
the same monogram as this pair of man traps. It might have 
served as the model for these barbarous toils, and on the spring 
I found the name " J. Veal" a Dorset maker, I believe, who 
lived before Hall, and one or two Dorset trapinakers who were 
famous in their day before the " Shave period," to use the 
language of the scientific world. 

From young Adams (now head keeper at "Wardour Castle) I 
borrowed another trap, also with double springs and circular 
jaws. The spike teeth are on the outside ; there are nine of 
them, flat and wedge-shaped. This trap weighs nearly 401b., 
and is 4ft. Gin. long. It has a peculiar trigger plate 9in. by 
llin., furnished with six large points, like small dog spears, for 
holding on a bait. An experienced master of foxhounds, who 



OLD TRAPS AXD SP3IXG GU.XS. 105 

-saw it a few days since, pronounced it a fox trap, and told me, as 
a boy. he had seen many of them in Kent. 

Unlike Veal's traps (the springs of which have all the life and 
activity of new steel), those on this trap have lost all their 
vigour, and it would not hold a rat. The jaws are suspended in 
single studs, and the whole thing is coarsely made. I should 
judge, from its rough-make and certain peculiarities in its 
form, that it is of foreign manufacture possibly a wolf trap 
imported from the Continent quite as much out of curiosity as 
for use. 

Another man trap which lies before me dates from the same 
old castle a humane trap, weighing something less than 201b. 
It consists of a light yet strong iron frame of about eighteen 
inches, and two active but not strong springs ; the jaws are of 
the same size as the frame, and run upon an iron jointed rod 
notched at one end, and self-locking at each side. The jaws close 
to the size of the leg, and there hold the delinquent until the 
keeper releases him in the morning. I have seen the rusted 
parts of such a trap in the park at Charbro', minus the trigger 
.and locks. 

In a treatise on the game laws, written by Professor Christian 
(1817). the author speaks of '-the man trap as an engine of 
horror. If life is not destroyed by it, it can only be ransomed by 

the loss of a limb If these are so placed that the person 

killed by them must have been in the commission of a felony, or 
have come to the spot with that intent, the person placing them 
might perhaps be in law justified ; but they are generally placed 
to prevent injuries in gardens or in preserves for game, where, if 
a person was killed by a gun fired from the hand, the person 
firing the gun would certainly be guilty of murder." 

The learned author goes on to state at length that where they 
are not set for the prevention of felonies, the act of setting them 
is an " indictable offence, as a misdemeanor;" but I can find no 
proof that the setting man traps and spring guns was forbidden 
until the 24 & 25 Viet. c. 100, s. 31. 

Not many years ago there was hardly a village which was not 
well supplied with these barbarous things. It was common 
enough to see them placarded in gardens and orchards, and they 
generally were combined with spring guns (for humanity sake), 
that the man caught and maimed might be shot and put out of 
his miser}*. 

I have ascertained that four or five have been beaten into 



106 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

horseshoes by tbe village Vulcans within a radius of ten miles, as 
have many pieces of iron of rare antiquity, no doubt. 

The present iron trap would be perfect but for two things its 
cruelty and its liability to catch and maim foxes. They must be 
very portable, or they cannot be carried in sufficient numbers, 
and unless they have teeth they are liable to let vermin escape, 
Thirty years ago (I am told) the Kentish trap, like the present 
hawk trap, had no teeth ; directly the Dorset trap was intro- 
duced, the toothless-gum trap was displaced. I should be glad 
to hear how the " rasp-lip trap " has answered, and why " the 
indiarubber gum " is a failure, as I have heard it reported, though 
I know not upon what grounds. 

I am very much inclined to think that the original " gin " had 
no teeth at all. Decidedly the first application of teeth was in 
the form of spikes, which folded over each other underneath the 
jaws. All the old frame traps are thus formed at any rate, all 
that I have seen whilst the spring, instead of being bent over in 
a loop, is simply bolted with one large stud and eye. I am in- 
clined to think this the best manner of attaching the spring after 
all, though not so pleasing to the eye. 

I have a beautifully made trap of Veal's thus constructed, 
working in double studs, and, after years of exposure to all 
weathers, quite as good as new. The .spring, resembling half of 
a carriage spring, except that it is one piece, is as quick and 
tenacious as the day it left the forge. This frame trap weighs 
of lb., without the chain and swivel, and is spiked underneath, 
even down the angle of the further jaw. It covers eight inches 
square of ground, and it would seize dog or cat o^ inches above 
the trigger plate. The usual Dorset trap made by Shave is 
4 inches square, and when closed the jaws are 2^ inches above 
the plate ; and yet this large trap first described can be covered 
with 2-5- inches of earth on the trigger plate, which is the deepest 
part. 

With one of these large traps a keeper caught a cunning rabbit, 
which "tormented" his cabbages. As the tale is told to me, 
he had trapped for this 'cute old buck for a good many weeks, 
but the traps were always '' thrown." It mattered little how 
many traps were tiled, or in what places. In the " jumps " or 
out of them, he sprung all in his way, and ate the keeper's greens 
to his heart's content. It occurred to him to see if he could get 
one of these large traps, which I fear are intended for vulpecide ; 
at any rate, I should look with much suspicion on any keeper who 



OLD TRAPS AND SPRING GUNS. 107 

set them. He borrowed one of Shave, the trap maker, who keeps 
a sort of museum of these engines, and set it in the most likely 
place. Occupying, as those cruel jaws did, twice the ordinary 
space of ground, poor bunny was taken the first night, and found 
dead in the morning. 

This feat in trapping was performed with (as I understand) an 
old otter trap, fished up from the Stour after years of immersion, 
as good as the day it left the forge ; the S. the "monogram " as 
we call it nowadays, of Shave's grandfather being still dis- 
tinguishable, and the springs as sharp as the day he tempered 
them. 

It will do the poor old smith little harm if I expatiate upon 
the barbarity of this instrument, 4-g- inches deep in the jaws 
when closed, and bristling with thickly-set spike teeth, not only 
along the surface, but at the angle of the jaws. There is no 
occasion to use such severit}*, even to hold an otter, confessedly 
the most difficult of all British animals to catch and keep. Give 
him plenty of chain (six feet), and he will drown himself ; and 
this old Shave well knew, for he has attached a strong six-feet 
chain to his old trap, with a well-made and still acting swivel. 
To my mind, only let the spring be good, and teeth are not 
requisite ; at any rate, spike teeth should be exploded, and the 
rasp lip or even smooth lip will. I trust, eventually be the 
description of trap commonly adopted. 

And, whilst I write of otters, I will mention a clever piece of 
trapping which occurred to me some ten or twelve years ago, 
when I was renting a decoy to which an otter travelled from 
another " outside decoy pond,'' also in my occupation, and mar- 
vellously disturbed the fowl. He used to come generally along 
the old brick causeway which led from the decoyman's house, and 
my old servant twice or three times pointed out his " spraints " 
with manifest irritation. 

' Theere he is again, sir," he said. "I've heerd un when I 
couldn't see un, and so have my boys; and, indeed, one of 'em see 
him about four o'clock coming up, and blowing and diving, and 
all the teal and ducks flying round in clouds ; and we can't catch 
un, they be such wan-y birds!" 

This went on for some weeks, and I bogan to think the otter 
was an excuse for laziness or something worse, especially as the 
bill for barley and the douceurs for weed seed to " toll the 
widgeon in ' waxed heavier and heavier, and the decoyman's 
good-looking daughter, who could trap vermin and break a 



108 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

retriever as well as any man in England, about the same time 
came out in a new and exceedingly becoming flaming yellow dress 
with a chocolate sprig, and a white bonnet with cherry-coloured 
streamers en suite. 

' Oh," I said to myself, " this is the otter with a vengeance ! " 
But I did the old man wrong, for one morning, as I came down 
before breakfast to look round the kennels, I saw him radiant 
with smiles, his white hair glistening in the rays of a bright 
December sun, and, having touched his hat with reverence, he 
swung from his back the otter which had caused us so much 
vexation, and had turned my heart to gall when I met his smart 
daughter in her new costume. 

"Here he is, sir! " the old decoyrnan exclaimed, as he threw 
down the otter with a thump ; " I thought you'd like the 'pelt ' 
(skin) of un. My son caught him, not me, and I'll tell you how he 
did it. He got a lot of round pebbles and covered his track just 
where he used to go over the little bridge where them blue 
flowers (the gentian) grows in the bog there, and put the trap on 
the side close to the watercourse. When he felt the round stones 
roll under his feet he turned out of his track, and went straight 
into the trap." 

Of course I was anxious to see the trap, and, leaving old Bertie 
to skin the otter, I rode down that afternoon. The trap was 
simply an old rabbit trap, nearly worn out, but it had got the 
poor brute by both fore feet, and she was positively uninjured 
until the old man killed her with his paddle. I was all the more 
vexed, as there were evidences that she suckled young ones ; and, 
if I had been fortunate enough to keep her alive, I would have 
done my best to secure the "cubs." and have devoted all my 
energies to train and rear them for fishing, as the Chinese use 
the trained green-eyed cormorant. As it was I made the 
best of it. and had the skin dressed in such a way that it 
was nearly as smooth as velvet, quite a? pliable, and much 
more enduring. 

I need not run through the various old traps of other forms, 
which, as I write, are arranged symmetrically upon the floor : 
suffice it to say they all have faults sufficient to condemn them in 
the eyes of any practical man. Some have limp springs ; others 
badly formed jaws which would let vermin escape, because not 
so constructed as to hold their grip ; and a few so severe that I 
think they would guillotine the leg of the oldest bull-headed 
Jack hare at Ashdown. But I must refer in a few words to the 



OLD TRAPS AND SPRING GUNS. 109 

improved hawk trap which lies before me, and which I have 
little doubt will answer. I have forwarded one or two of them 
to friends of mine for trial, and they are a great success. 

The old hawk trap has a narrow trigger plate. This new one 
has simply a notch at the end of this perch or narrow plate, 
which holds down one of the toothless jaws, and acts beautifully ; 
for if one jaw is held flat, of course both are. The largest is a 
circle of Gin. in diameter, the jaws (closed) 3^in. deep. This is 
a very serviceable trap, and would take any hawk (even the 
largest peregrine) by the leg ; whilst the usual trap. 4in. in the 
jaws, although seldom failing to secure the bird, almost always 
catches them by the toe. This little trap is used by keepers to 
place in the nests, for which the larger one is too cumbrous. I 
need hardly add that these traps are used without bait, and placed 
on the top of a post in-some bleak and barren spot. 

Spring guns or alarm guns may be used still, supposing that 
they merely make a report, and are not dangerous. The old 
spring gun was a murderous weapon, and was prohibited at the 
same time and by the same Act as the man trap. They are still 
set in India for the destruction of wild beasts, and the son of a 
friend of mine, going down the river, was killed by one on landing 
from his boat. 

Alarm guns were made by the celebrated sword cutter Wilkin- 
son. He sold a metal plate with a gun-metal hammer worked by 
one strong spring. This could be screwed to a post or tree, and 
the trigger could be made as sensitive as the keeper desired ; 
whilst the strings or wires could be arranged in all directions. 
and at any height from the ground. The explosive substance 
was secured in a " maroon " of varnished string, absolutely impe:- 
vious to weather, and the hammer fell upon a tube of detonating- 
powder. 

Lately I have seen a far better alarm gun, made by W. Wigg. 
of Barn by Foundry, near Beccles. It consists of a rough, cast- 
iron, short barrel, with such a spring and hammer as that I have 
described of Wilkinson's metal ; a metal projection or shed protects 
the percussion cap from rain, and it can be lightly or heavily 
charged, as the situation may require. When the muzzle is 
placed upwards, the report is much louder then when it is turned 
downwards. 

Tin 1 Russians seem to have carefully studied " infernal ma- 
chinos," which are spring guns of more elaborate construction : 
and I remomber that one, cone-shaped, and at its widest part 



110 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

three feet across, also ignited by pressure upon wires, was found 
in the dockyard at Kertch in the late Crimean war. I have a 
notion that one of those exploded also at sea, and injured one of 
our ships. Probably the time will come when we shall trust to 
these submerged explosives for protection against invasion rather 
than to iron ships or forts. 



TOM FBERE THE HARD-RIDING FARMER. Ill 



PAPER XIV. 

TOM FRERE THE HARD-RIDING FARMER. 

You couldn't be long in our neighbourhood that is to say, if 
you are a hunting uian without seeing, or hearing of, or making 
the acquaintance of Torn Frere ; and if you didn't make his 
acquaintance, he would make yours. There was no shyness or 
mauvaise honte about Tom ; he might have heard of such things, 
but he despised them as " outlandish," and he was as imperturb- 
able, impassive, and incapable of blushing as a plaster cast. 

I had not been long in these parts when he introduced himself 
to me. I was a guest the only disinterested guest at a rent 
dinner, where some thirty well-to-do agriculturists had assembled 
to meet their landlord at quarter-day, and to dine with him after- 
wards. The dinner waited whilst the last two or three bored the 
squire and kept the groom from galloping to the National and 
Provincial with the coin and cheques. Meanwhile the eman- 
cipated tenants were at liberty to inspect the old masters and 
sculpture in the picture gallery, and they could amuse themselves 
as they liked. The gallery was pretty full, and the fine old 
steward, whose work was over and a hard day he had had of it 
had just come in with his dress coat on, quite ready for the 
soup and haunch. 

We were all on our best behaviour when Tom came in, 
bringing with him a rummer of brandy and water '' cold 
without " he called it. As he was a peg too low, and as there 
were only a few carved oak benches, he seated himself on a 
sleeping Venus, and placed his brimming goblet on her right 
temple, ready to his hand. He was rather below the middle 
height, with small features, keen eyes, a largish mouth and good 
teeth which he was fond of showing, or which naturally drew 
your attention and a bull neck. 

There was that about him which intimated a want of imagi- 
nation a state of mind which frequently accompanies hard 
riding and his dress and bearing were of the exceedingly sporting 
farmer order. 



112 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

He might be five-and-twenty in age, but he was threescore and' 
ten in confidence ; or, maybe. I should be better understood if I 
said that in this matter he was seventeen ; and as to his being 
wrong or mistaken, he was as self-opinionated as the Delphic 
oracle, and about as much to be believed. " Mornin'," he said to 
me, with as much familiarity as if we had married two sisters, 
and perhaps a touch of condescension it was about seven o'clock 
p.m., by the way "I don't think your nag would see much of it 
if we met down in the vale." I had come to grief over one of our 
rotten banks, well honeycombed with rabbits, a few days before, 
and Tom. who came with a rush on a young Irish horse he was 
riding for a friend, had all but landed in the small of my back. 
He would have proceeded to enlighten us on the subject of 
hounds and horses there and then, but that the last tenants 
had subsided, and the squire was waiting for his guests to 
assemble. 

I saw little of him during dinner ; but afterwards I heard him 
vouchsafe some unpalatable truths about missing snipes, and 
describing some neighbouring squire (not present, of course) as 
" a regular duffer/' quite at his ease, though his landlord was 
observing him with a cool stare, for the duffer was one of our 
host's particular friends. 

He was not exactly a tenant, but a tenant's son, and came as 
the old man's representative, and as being the eldest son. The 
younger ones looked after the business, but Tom never went over 
the land without his greyhounds, and seldom came home without 
a hare or two. He was also one of the best snipe shots in the 
county ; for he was born and bred amongst them, and the little 
green terrace at the back of the old farmhouse had been redeemed 
from bog and quagmire by means of a deep ditch and wall. He 
had but to cross this ha-ha and walk ahead for miles. He was a good 
fly-fisher too ; for all the rapid streams about here were preserved, 
and none interrupted him, so his rod and tackle were always kept 
at full length, and he could whip the streams for an hour or a 
day all the season. But all these sports Tom despised compared 
with hunting, and in that sport he shone in his own way. 

His "people " hadn't much money some said that they had 
none ; but sometimes people with none get on the best, and this 
want of the needful was Tom's excuse for not riding expensive 
horses. " I can't get them," he used to say. "'and I shouldn't 
enjoy them if I could." 

When hounds were going he never valued his horse, and his 



TOM FKERE THE HAKU-liiDING FABMEK. 113 

system as to fencing was, " Over, if yon can : through, if you 
can't ; or down and up again on the right side." 

So Tom became known as a bruiser across country, and, being 
of an obliging disposition perhaps, or fond of danger and excite 
ment, or preferring to ride a brute to staying at home or shooting 
snipes, he was " game'' to make a horse for anyone ; and if they 
would send plenty of oats and beans, let who would find horse- 
flesh, Mr. Frere would find neck. 

On these wretched youngsters, a month up from grass, or just 
over their physic, he would ' get on" fourteen miles to covert, keep 
away from the rest, get a good place and keep it. fall and get up 
again, turn up when everyone expected he had been carried off 
on a hurdle, pound half the field by his resolute riding, go at 
timber forty miles an hour, or ride a horse that wouldn't rise a 
foot, at a hog-backed stile. 

I don t say that he had a pretty seat far from it ; but if 
he had been sewn on to his saddle-flaps he couldn t have been 
firmer. He sat very far back in his saddle, kept his hands 
down, rode without gloves, and was over-liberal with his spurs 
that is, if he was riding a horse that wanted rousing, for 
with a hot horse he was as quiet as a Quaker, and almost as 
silent. 

He had a peculiar fancy for turnpike gates, and has many 
and many a time ridden over them for a trifling bet. His 
black mare, about 14.3 high, would go over them like a bird, 
and it was Tom's theory that " any horse could do it." He 
was quite sincere in this belief, and declared that the first time 
he tried it he was actuated by kind feelings towards the gate 
man, and didn't want to call him up ; and as it was moonlight, 
and he knew the mare had jumped higher, he rode at it, and 
landed all right. Some of his neighbours twitted him about 
it next day ; so he did it again, and subsequently repeated the 
performance with a broken-kneed mare, which he bought in the 
street after a horse-fair, and with which he cut down the field 
when she was about half fit, and eventually won a steeple- 
chase in excellent company. 

Tom had no groom, and hardly any stable. His black mare 
went in the market cart or the hay rake, and took her turn al 
plough : and after the hardest run she was shut in the stab]' 
undressed, with her corn in the manger, if she chose to eat it. 
A i\.r his bridle, it was about the colour of a copper kettle 
with rust, and exactly matched his stirrup irons: and he rode 

i 



114 THE IDSTOJTE PAPERS. 

with one girth and a crupper. A stranger might perhaps cut 
a joke at him as he came on to covert ; but he must be well 
mounted and have the right stuff inside his waistcoat who 
could give Tom a lead, let the pace be ever so good. 

He could give a good account of himself on a pony, too, if the 
hounds ran on the heath, and he had a vixenish bay forest mare 
which went on her hind legs, and never was shod, and exas- 
perated half the " three-figure " men. 

She wasn't more than thirteen hands, was as thick and wedgy 
as a cart horse, could get along under any weight, and was the 
best hack and trotter, or rather runner, in these parts. I ought 
to know, for I bought her out in the hunting field, and she 
was delivered next day. Tom rode her over full swing without 
a saddle, racing his brother cross country to my house for a 
glass of brandy and water, and beating him at the run in, 
which is a severe "gradient." Of course she was in a white 
foam, and as I paid him the money he observed, ' She's nasty 
in the stable with a stranger," vaulted behind his brother, and 
went up the hill for home at slapping pace. I am describing 
these things just as they occurred, and if they are uninteresting 
I am sorry for it. 

I found Tom had not exaggerated, for she would cleave the 
skull of anyone she disliked : and we fed her for some days (at 
least my man did), with a long-handled saucepan, clambering over 
the stall, when I insisted on his saddling her and bringing her io 
the door in fear and trembling. But she soon got over these 
vagaries, and from first to last was gentle with me, and many a 
good day's sport I* had on her ; for, though we were mutually 
afraid of big places, she would lead over anything, (includ- 
ing gates), and soon followed like a dog, or waited to be 
caught. In the spring she proved in foal, and I was obliged to 
part with her ; which accounted for my getting her such a bar- 
gain, though Tom came over and wished he might have many 
things happen to him if he knew it. 

I don't think that I have said that Tom was a bachelor. He 
was never known but once to show any symptoms of having what 
he called " a soft place " in him, and this was how it came 
about. 

The huntsman his only confidant and he were jogging home 
together, and the conversation was confined, of course, to the 
events of the day, and more especially they exchanged opinions 
as to the merits of those who had shown themselves in the front. 



TOM FEEBE THE HABD-EIDINQ FABMEE. 115 

'' That there young lady on the fleabitten thoroughbred went 
well, Mister Freere," said Davis, turning round jauntily in his 
saddle to see that his pack was close at the heels of old Jacob 
(his black hunter), and thus failing to notice a sort of confused 
look in Tom's face, and a heightened colour which was as near an 
approach to a blush as he ever made and very well for a first 
attempt. " How she did creep along over the plough ; and when 
we got to the grass lands she sailed away like " the huntsman 
never heard of confusing metaphors, so he said "like a bird/' 

The said Davis had got past the age of romance, and preferred 
what he called " his little comforts to a very angel in the shape 
of a woman ; and these " comforts " aforesaid were the cause of 
some differences between him and Mrs. Davis at times, as they 
were made up of spirits and a bar parlour. 

Well, Tom gave vent to his feelings in a sort of bucolic hiccough, 
which he meant for a sigh, and confided to Davis that when he 
saw her fly Bradford Farm " double" " What me and my mare 
done at twice, Davis" he was struck all of a heap ; " and what's 
more, Davis," he went on, " she fair grinned when her flunkey 
went round to the gate." For, you see, Tom was unused to 
ladies' society, and he called a spade a spade. 

"I wonder who she is, Mr. Freere," said Davis; "she never 
was out with us before." But here the conversation was ended 
by Tom's horse " lumpering," and a suggestion to pull up and 
get some gruel, which generally means entertainment for man as 
well as beast ; and both Tom and the huntsman accordingly 
pulled up, for they were close to a public when the old mare hit 
the stone. 

The object of their admiration was there before them, and she 
had dismounted to see that the flour and water was mixed pro- 
perly, when Tom in a bewildered way offered to do it for her ; for 
no one was at home but the landlady a coarse old woman in a 
shawl and the only daughter, who was a deal too fine to wait on 
what she called "^animals." "Thank you very much," she 
said in a frank manner ; " my servant has missed me ; be so kind 
as to mix the meal with a little cold water first, get it quite 
smooth, and then stir in the boiling water excuse my giving 
you directions now please cool it down." Tom was enchanted 
to wait upon her, and when she requested him to get her a chair, 
but on second thoughts she put one hand on his shoulder, another 
on the pommel, and leapt into the saddle without an effort, and 
was off down tlu> road. Tom turned round to Davis and gave 

i 2 



16 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

to his admiration in language and with a blank expression which 
I won't attempt to describe. 

Tom was smitten, and had serious thoughts of " settling." 
" She's exactly my handwriting, Davis," he went on, when a 
surly-looking groom, with a face like a pug dog, rode up and 
asked if a lady on a grey was ahead. Tom was very willing to 
show the way, but the surly groom was not sociably inclined, and 
all Tom's offers of beer, or even something better, could not 
prevail; nor was he going to tell "they roughs," as he called 
them, who " missiis and me was," and so on. 

Tom went home and thought about it. He broke his short 
pipe, gave over smoking, bought a teacaddy with a moulded glass 
sugar basin in the middle, got his mother to cover the front of 
his bridle with blue velvet, and set up for a respectable man. 
But he didn't see her again (as he described it) till " barley 
sowing ;" and I will give his own simple description of the scene. 

" I was in our market, when who should I see but that pug- 
dog-faced chap driving a yellow chariot thing, with crowns on 
the doors, and two great ramping brown carriage horses, seventeen 
hands high, with gilt harness and crests all over it ; and she was 
inside, dressed first-rate, quite like a lady, with a little boy in a 
velvet coat and a hat and feather about two or three years old, 
he was. I nodded to the groom as was on the box, but he 
took no notice, nor she neither, though they pulled up close to 
me ; and the footman with his hair powdered pushed me a-one- 
side, and told the shopman to bring out some toys for My Lady's 
little boy. I was rather low about it for a bit, but of course 
arter this I give her up /" 

And "arter this" Tom, who was not poetic enough to hang 
himself or take poison, found excitement in the hunting field, and 
speculated, deeply for him, in horses. " Next Cadbury Hill 
Fair," Tom told Davis when he met him at exercise "Next 
Cadbury Hill Fair, Davis, I'll spec'late in the Irish drove." 
"That will suit you better, Master Frere," said Davis, "than 
having to ride second oss with a countess ; and I'll come and help 
you deal. Let's see, it's next Toosday." 

There were a lot of rough Irish colts, and men as rough who 
owned them ; but Tom never got beyond looking, and at last the 
men wouldn't pull any more out for him, and told him to go on 
and look at the next lot, and so on. At last the whole mob 
began to move off, and there was scarce a horse left upon the 
place. The van men, actors, dwarfs, and monstrosities lit their 



TOM FBEEE THE HARD-BIDING FABMEB. 117 

fires for the night. It was the latter end of September, and Tom 
was strolling down hill to his father's, not a mile off, when he 
came upon a little knot of gipsies sharing their gains and losses, 
and "knocking out.'' that is, selling by auction to their gang, a 
three-parts bred, or perhaps a thorough-bred, six-year-old bay 
mare. She had a broken knee and was shin sore, wearing 
carpet boots on her fetlocks, and there was little of her but the 
bones. However, she caught Tom's eye, and Tom caught the 
gipsy's, and Tom had " a run." From sixteen guineas they got 
to ten, and from ten to something like half sixteen ; and all the 
time a gipsy lad, with half boots and a fur cap, and little more 
in the way of dress, was galloping her backwards and forwards, 
pulling up short, and turning her round as though she were on a 
pivot the surest way to show a spavin if there is one. " Heads 
or tails ?" said Tom to the brownest gipsy, whose skin was the 
colour and complexion of a pancake ; " I'll have her : " and, 
amidst the united gipsy chorus of " Sold again," Tom led her to 
his paternal stables. 

What became of her and of Tom I must leave until another 
day. 



118 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XV. 

EXPECTING BROWN. 

IF you live in the country as I do, and rarely see anything 
passing along on the other side of the invisible fencing, except a 
drove of sheep or a herd of bullocks if you are five miles from 
the nearest house whose inmates have any idea of more than one 
language, and that a most corrupt one, spoken in a harsh key 
you will have learnt that you depend a good deal upon your home 
visitors for a cheerful autumn and a merry winter. 

As the mellow tints come upon the forest leaves, and by the 
time your gay dahlias are cut down there will be fewer and fewer 
wheel tracks on the gravel ring, and presently the morning calls 
will have come to an end. A few of your neighbours who are 
blessed with wives and daughters free from delicate constitutions 
will turn out on a cheery clear day and pull up in the open phaeton, 
the lady occupants well protected in thirty-guinea sealskin 
jackets and bear-skin rugs ; or, perchance, when the snow lies 
thick upon the ground, the new-married couple, who don't know 
the price of a basinette or the best emporium for baby-linen yet, 
will skim along your entrance in a sledge the only notice of 
their approach being the peal of bells upon the leader, until you 
hear a rich mellow voice from beneath a shawl and moustaches 
suggesting that " it's good weather to try that Morello cherry 
brandy you were talking of." 

In a week or two there is the first advertised meet of the 
hounds, and, as you finish a rather early breakfast, you can see a 
smart groom or two taking your neighbour's horses on to covert at 
a walk. As you leave your own gate, you fall in with him and 
"the house party" in the break, the collars of their "pinks" 
just betraying their business to the approving yokels as they trot 
through the village and scatter the water at the brook ferry by 
the ruined water mill, doing twelves miles an hour, and able to 
get up to fifteen if required. For that pair of own brothers by 
Hotspur, who ran the Dutchman to a head, are in hard condition, 
and, although they have come six miles in a little under thirty 



EXPECTING BROWN. 119 

minutes, they have hardly got their coats down, and the near-side 
one is ready to break away into a canter if he were not driven as 
quietly and with as much judgment as you can get into any head 
at five-and-twenty years twelve and a half in the stable, and 
the other half in the kennel adjoining, except when the body was 
at Eton, where the mind never was. 

If they had not been driven by a middling hand, they wouldn't 
have got well round the turn, when the old milldam was passed ; 
Taut I could see the young one on the box draw the reins through 
his hand, and take them into the middle of the road. And well 
he did so ! for here comes the miller's van, the man driving with 
rope reins to the wheelers only, and of course he is on his wrong 
side, hidden by the high hedge until the phaeton is close upon 
him. Then he pulls up instead of pulling in, and cracks his 
whip, which resounds like a pistol, and unsettles the going of the 
Hotspurs ; by this time they are just inclined to back a bit. and, 
feeling the influence of this bracing, sunny, crisp-aired November 
morning, are bridling well, and stepping up and out as only blood 
ones can. 

Here, by the wrought iron gates, which admit of a fine view of 
the old beech avenue the trunks of these same beeches ad- 
mirably contrasted with their carpet of russet leaves I come 
upon a knot of beaters, "waiting for the Squire." and lose sight 
and sound of the phaeton and pair simultaneously. The keeper, 
in his best bran new suit of autumn-tinted velveteen, waits at a 
little distance with "masters retriever," his face displaying, in 
spite of a good humoured expression, a little anxiety lest the fox 
should make for his home coverts and scatter his tame birds to 
the winds (and, what is worse, the poachers). He makes me his 
confidant as I trot by him, " hoping that I shall be able to come 
to master's next Saturday with the London gentleman, for master 
is depending upon us, and he knows the woodcocks were pitching 
in last night." 

"All right, Evans; I shall be there! ' and this puts me in 
mind of Brown, who always comes once a vear, and more fre- 
quently twice. 

Brown is fifty, but so wonderfully coopered up that he would 
pass for thirty-five. There are secrets between him and his 
valet concerning his teeth, hair, and padding, which defv detec- 
tion, and which will never be revealed. He always will have a 
fire in his room to heat a little saucepan or pipkin, which Mr. 
Marsden (his valet) locks up as soon as it is done with ; and my 



120 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

little boy, who took his letters to him one morning, is the only 
mortal who ever saw it. The imp couldn't see Brown well, but 
lie thought he had his hair in papers, and that he didn't look so 
young in bed as he did at breakfast. Brown is " something in 
the City," but I don't know what, and a good deal at Acton, 
where he is called "the Squire": and two or three unmarried 
ladies admire him and go to him for charitable contributions, 
which they always get. 

He was captain of the eleven when I first went to school, and I 
was his wretched little valet. No fag ever had a better master, 
though ; and the way he put up with my bad toasting of muffins, 
and the patience he manifested at my awkwardness at football or 
cricket, are past belief. 

Only those who have passed some years of their lives at a 
public school know the advantage of having a big fellow on your 
side until you are a big fellow yourself. I was head boy at a 
tutor's who prepared boys for public schools, and my word was 
law there. I wrote the best verses, and had more hampers than 
any of them, and I expected to cany this importance with me 
when my father put my little portmanteau into his phaeton and 
chucked me after it. 

The last few stages we were driven by a stage coachman who 
drove the coach in my father's time, and he and "Old Jack" 
met as old acquaintances. It rained during the last mile or two, 
and the school gates did not look cheerful. There was that 
sober expression about the head master's butler, which I have 
seen worn by the keepers of a private madhouse ; and the school 
might have been a lunatic asylum, or a gaol, or both. The 
barred windows were not encouraging, and the dining room (into 
which we were ushered as though both of us were going to 
enter as disciples) was severely classical. The prints, half 
circular, and of austere copper-plate design, were all from 
pictures of martyrs and angels, and the latter seemed as gloomy 
as those they came to succour ! There were preparations going 
on for a large dinner, and the sober domestics (sober as yet) kept 
bringing in little clusters of wine glasses and tumblers as we 
waited. 

" Holloa ! " my father exclaimed, " hock for dinner ! I wonder 
if these are the old green glasses they had in my day, when this 
head master was a little child in petticoats." 

Presently more fathers and more little boys, and we soon 
looked like a group of patients in a dentist's waiting room. I 



EXPECTING BROWX. 121 

could have looked upon the jug of hot water, clean tumbler, 
and towels as a matter of course, when the head master himself 
called us into his long, rather narrow, but handsome study. 

There were few questions to ask and few words to write, and 
my father took me out to dine with him. the master promising, 
when I came in at six p.m., to introduce me to Brown, whose 
father and mine were old schoolfellows. Here my acquaintance 
began with " the London gentleman.'' who (like the old 
general's butler, that robbed his employer himself, but accorded 
that privilege to no other) kept a tight hand upon me in my 
schooldays, but protected me from all petty tyranny initiating 
me into the mysteries and slang of school life, and putting me in 
the way of taking my own part, by occasional scientific lessons in 
the art of self-defence. 

1 suppose that he was sixteen at this time, and we were about 
a year together. I recollect his father coming to see him once ? 
that he gave him a five-pound note and tipped me with two 
pounds (one of them all in silver), and that he seemed to' me an 
old man on the verge of the grave (he was about forty-four), and 
very like the present Brown, whom I look upon as in the prime 
of life. Soon after my schoolfellow left for Oxford, and when I 
went up to reside I found him the junior fellow of my college, 
with London chambers and a moor in Scotland. 

I believe it was at his father's urgent request that he held his 
fellowship, and submitted to the martyrdom of good rooms, good 
living, good hunting, and plenty of money at a moment's notice, 
until he saw me safe through my first year, when he resigned his 
preferment, and became junior partner, or " co.,' or whatever it 
is, with his father in the City. I was very much inclined for 
business when I saw the state of things, only I had no father to 
join ; for this " junior partner '' always had time to fish or shoot 
in Norway or Scotland, and was chiefly employed in his morning 
ride, his afternoon drive, going to his club, and smoking the most 
choice cigars. Then his chambers ! What a luxurious home for 
Young England ! (He was one of that body then, ami his waist 
was barely twenty inches !) 

What a row of Wellingtons, and what presses of coats, waist- 
coats, and unwhisperables ! Here, over the fireplace, behind 
plate glass, are his Purdeys, guns and rifles for all sorts of game ; 
and on either side his pet tandem and pair-horse whips straight, 
taper, and with the crops well quilled. Here is one 1-e shows me- 
a blackthorn with the bark on. which has upwards of a hundred 



122 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

and fifty treble knots. He presses it, as he says this, upon the 
thick Axminster carpet, to show me it is as it ought to be, as 
stiff as an iron bar to within two feet of the top, and as straight 
as a gun barrel, with a beautiful " fall." His sitting room has 
-a bed room opening into it on each side, so that he and his 
visitor can dress by easy stages over the fire in winter ; and on 
the floor of each donnitory there is a large bath, with a sliding 
lid, a waste pipe, and water hot or cold laid on. There is a 
speaking tube to the servants' rooms, and every possible con- 
venience, at the modest rental of, say, three hundred pounds a 
year for which he told me they took care of his pictures 
(Copley Fielding's, Tayler's, and the great Turner's), and kept 
at arm's length all bores, whom the porter knows as well as a 
huntsman knows his hounds. 

Notwithstanding all this luxury and comfort, nothing pleased 
" the London gentleman" better than to leave it all, and put up 
with the rough living and hard walking of a country shooting 
box ; and, alike in my father's time or now that I can find him 
a bedroom, for the last five-and-twenty years I have visited 
Brown, or he has once or twice a year been to stay with me. 
His valet, like his master, with whom he has lived full five-and- 
twenty years, delights to escape from a cook, whom he married 
in an evil hour, and to seek for the solace of his long winter 
evenings amongst our less polished servants, by whom is regarded 
as an oracle of wisdom and a model of polished manners. Even 
our keeper, who has been to Norway, is silent when he speaks, 
and approves the theory he propagates as to shooting, though it 
jars with his practice, which is deficient very. They tell me he 
is allowed a silver fork at dinner ; and my own man, a village wit 
and a confirmed boaster, levels no shafts of ridicule at him, and 
always calls him " Sir." 

What a blessed influence he sheds over my rough, unpolished 
household ? for this well-bred domestic takes no holiday when he 
comes here. He tried it once, but became insufferably "bored," 
and begged to be allowed to " wait." In a couple of days 
he had done wonders with the stable-boy impressed when we 
have a house full, and had so redeemed that youngster from 
savage life that I regarded the reformation in his head with 
wonder and admiration. His hair, in his happiest moments, 
used to resemble those brushes of brass wire which gunmakers 
sell with cleaning rods ; but now it is glossy and well parted, 
"fore and aft," as a sailor would say. He has learnt not to 



EXPECTING BROWN. 123 

slam the door or leave it open ; he does not blow down my neck 
as he holds a guest's plate on the " off side," in spite of the 
coachman's rough whisper of "near side, Jini" ; and he puts on 
the wood or coal gently and without noise. Were my friend's 
London valet single, he would turn all the sen-ant's heads I 
mean the women servants, of course. The cook, who owns to 
forty-five, wears during the evenings that he is here a chignon, 
which is about the size of a half-quartern loaf, and my neat 
Phillis mounts cherry -coloured ribbons in his honour. 

Imperturbable, quiet, self-possessed, Brown's " gentleman'' goes 
about his business as though he saw them not, and between the 
courses appears unconscious of any presence save that of the 
demon at his home, who has most likely written to him that 
very morning to remind him the Christmas rent is due. 

Old Horace tells us that black Care sits behind the horseman. 
I see a shadowy outline of some such grim adherent in the box 
of Brown's "fly," as, master inside and servant on the box, they 
pull up at my cottage door ! What a contrast between master and 
man ! The former blithe and cheery ; tinkered up by the greatest of 
London artists in their walk, he might be one of those truthful 
portraits, so confessedly the transcripts of boredom, which occupy 
the space of the Royal Academy year by year ! His luggage, 
double gun case, and cartridge pannier are of the best, and tell 
you in broad branded letters that they are " warranted of solid 
leather." His own name, figured in enormous capitals, could not 
be more " pronounced," even if he were an Indian Viceroy ! 
What a dressing case that must be, judging from its leathern 
envelope and straps ; and a snob would form a high estimate of 
Brown, as he beheld that morocco courier bag garnished with its 
gold clasp and buckles. Then his umbrella attenuated as a 
parasol, with a stick so bedizened, so decked with gold shield 
and crest, that its proper place would be some cabinet with 
Watteau panels, and its associates articles of vertu and buhl ink- 
stands. 

As he descends, the valet, streaming with water, offers Mr. 
Brown his elbow, and gently repudiates the flyman, who has his 
hand upon the door, and whispers him some inaudible message 
concerning fare and gratuity no doubt for the driver touches 
his hat, and transfers his simulated endearments to the "osses," 
which, as their name implies, are merely a collection of bones. 

There is a flutter amongst my household, and I infer that the 
chimney in Brown's room is "smoking." He has one half hour 



124 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

before dinner, and he will make the best of it, though I impress 
upon him he need not dress. For all that, as I have a gossip 
with him whilst his valet is laying out his change of garments, I 
observe that he is determined to have his own way, and that he 
will come out in that new dress coat by Poole, which preceded 
him yesterday in a deal box, and which my youngsters longed to 
open. 

Now, if the. fish hasn't missed the train, all will go on pros- 
perously, and Brown's advent may be marked with a white stone. 
I don't care although the cook gave warning a week ago ; for 
haven't I bought another for two shillings at the register office, 
and offered eighteenpence for a housemaid ? The present chef 
will outlive Brown's stay, and, let her do her best, my old friend 
won't grumble, though the sauces are inferior to those which are 
furnished at his club. His valet approves the claret, and has 
superintended the icing of the dry champagne. Early as it is, 
we have arranged a snipe pudding, and terrine de foie gras is the 
same in clubs and out of them. I only wait the light tread of 
my old acquaintance as he emerges from his room, and a knot of 
us are grouped round the hall stove, wondering where he is. 

A tub and a wet hairbrush are all a youngster wants, unless 
he condescends to rondeletia, the Jockey Club scent, and bando- 
line such fripperies take time ; but at fifty odd. if you are 
determined to look boyish in patches, you can't be hurried. 
There are various little deceits which you have to practise, first 
upon yourself and then upon your friends. It takes longer to 
arrange a little hair " thin on the top " than a thick crop of it ; 
and. as Brown has barely a curl left, the arranging that one wisp, 
which is in the same situation as the forelock of "Father Time," 
necessitates the wasting of moments which at last weigh heavily 
upon the cook. Around the logs of beech we are fast drifting 
into politics, as a last resource, for we have gone through the 
merits of my kennel, reviewed Lexicon, Lucifer, and Labourer of 
the Poltimore kennel, and abjured big hounds to a man ; there 
is scarce a gunmaker or his gun which has not been approved, 
criticised, or condemned ; and the battues and future "bags " at 
well-known manors have been prophesied of. and declared to be 
great or small according to the fancy of the speaker. Horses 
have been mentally inspected, too, and the number of foxes would 
seem to be prodigious I earnestly hope it may ; and whilst one 
of the company, his legs wide apart, is extolling the new hunts- 
man just imported from the Shires, I am conscious of a slight 



EXPECTING BROWN. 125 

smell of Truefitt's and the Burlington Arcade as I hear Brown's 
step upon the stairs. 

He joins our group of what he playfully calls "rustics/' whose 
coats are provincial ; and they (old friends of his) appear not to 
notice his silk facings and white waistcoat, which looks better on 
him than the common herd because he doesn't (as a London 
Schneider told me I did) ' want the chest." That suit presumes 
a good dinner, and enfolds the most easy-going, prosperous man 
in England, the beau ideal of a sleeping partner sleeping pretty 
soundly, too, until the day of reckoning, when he receives his 
"bit of grey paper," puts it carelessly into his waistcoat pocket, 
and bowls off in his cab for Coutts and Co., or Barclay, Bevan, 
&c. I wish I had an account with either of them but I 
haven't ! 



126 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XVI. 

BROWN IN THE COUNTRY. 

OXE finds out rustic inconveniences when the house is full. In 
my case that means when ruy few spare bedrooms are occupied. 

Perhaps I felt it the more when I had one of my very oldest 
friends with me the "London gentleman" accompanied by 
his imperturbable valet. 

If you lie awake three or four nights before your visitor arrives, 
thinking of what there is the house won't furnish, still at last 
there will be some omission a " club" man will feel. I live twelve 
miles from the nearest lobster, fourteen and a half from ice, and 
five from pickles or Durham mustard. I believe there is no real 
pale ale nearer than Burton that is, about one hundred and 
forty-seven miles as the crow flies. If these things are not " in 
stock," you can't have them ; and if you have a fit of indigestion, 
you must fight it out till morning, or rely upon my medical resources 
and my not having mislaid my copy of "Domestic Medicine." 
Generally this volume of common sense, and science made in- 
telligible to any educated mind, is on the same shelf as the 
Cookery Book, that the one may be at hand to remedy the effects 
of the other. If it is not, the search may be prolonged, possibly 
until Nature has righted herself, for there is no doctor to be had 
under three hours. 

And, being on the subject of cookery books, let me say you are 
sure to run on shore if you attempt too much or aim too high in 
country dinners. A little novelty is well enough, but try any- 
thing for which London is famous, and you are wrecked ! Soup 
is frequently a breakdown, and my cook promoted now to 2o/. 
per annum and " all found " used to think that you couldn't 
boil a turbot too much. I believe she once boiled it all night 
with the plum pudding. Saddle of mutton is safe to be all right ; 
so are those white fowls, and the sauce so like gruel under 
ordinary treatment, both in appearance, taste, and smell. 

Breakfast is a village difficulty, except the sideboard dishes, 
where by means of a good deal of parsley and a little cold meat, 
3*ou can get on moderately ; but don't risk beefsteaks. Take my 



BROWN IN THE COUNTRY. 127 

word for it, they are indigenous to London, and tough everywhere 
else. 

Every meal in a village is an embarrassment, more or less, 
owing to the childish thoughtlessness of your domestics, who, 
when they are "shunted" from the ordinary groove, instantly 
lose their heads. 

At the last moment always expect some catastrophe ; the proba- 
bility is that you won't be disappointed. No oil for the lamps, 
or oil but no wicks that's a common thing ; but the kitchen 
" chimbley " on fire at the last hour is by no means an uncommon, 
nor indeed an uninteresting, thing. Sometimes these annoyances 
begin at the dawn of day, when you have to borrow butter 
because the cream has gone to sleep, and the churn has been 
going incessantly for six hours, and is going now. We had no 
milk one morning, nor cream either, for a mouse was found 
drowned in the milkpan, and the cows had strayed in the night, 
and were probably half a dozen miles away. On another occa- 
sion, when we wanted two or three extra horses, and were the 
last party to start four in my Whitechapel, one the great gun 
of the party my horse hopped off like a frog; for the day before 
the blacksmith had "pricked " him, and said nothing about it, 
nor did my man see that he was lame until I called his attention 
to it, when he declared that he " often went like that " of 
course ! 

On the occasion of this visit for I must give up grumbling 
all went moderately well. Someone asked for Vichy water, which 
we hadn't got (we are twelve miles from Vichy water), and I 
think Brown asked for a shalot, but compromised for a pickled 
onion, which was exactly twelve minutes in coming. I also 
observed that he turned up the whites of his eyes at the soup, 
when his attentive valet removed his plate, probably at this 
preconcerted signal. 

Country dinners, complimentary banquets, and even Lord 
Mayors' dinners, corne to an end at last, and so did ours. We 
also got over the evening after a fashion, and I believe that we 
did not destroy one neighbour's reputation. I think even whist 
is more Christianlike than that ; some people don't. We had 
contrived to exceed our usual number of house visitors, for the 
bachelor portion put up with the schoolboy's beds, except Brown, 
who always has the same room, and bestrews it with clothes of 
every description. These are never put into shape without great 
energy and consideration by his valet, and then only to be stirred 



128 THE IDSTONE PAPEE8. 

together again resembling, in the mixture he makes of dress 
clothes, shuts, boots, and cartridges, a sort of Irish stew on a 
large scale. 

We generally have a sort of " camp-fire " meeting when the 
civilised portion of the household have gone to rest, held in the 
tiled kitchen, with potash, soda, and the spirit cruets for those 
that like it ; and the copper kettle ("A 1," three parts of it kept 
bright and a porcelain handle) is expected to be boiling on the 
hob. The only thing that puts us out is that nearly all of them 
want their clothes aired, and that it is difficult to make room for 
half a dozen fellows and a clothes-horse heavy with coats, 
knickerbockers, and flannel shirts. 

I remember hearing of one old fellow who used on these visits 
to be very particular not to keep his powder dry, but to dry it 
when he was on a visit to his friends, and that on one occasion 
he had, unobserved by his host, taken this usual precaution, most 
likely feeling pretty sure that his usual plan would not meet with 
the approbation of his friends. They had a very pleasant 
evening indeed ; it was a frosty night, and they had a roaring, 
blazing fire of wood and coal, and towards morning they all 
retired of course. 

At breakfast next day the footman brought in on a tray what 
looked like a very large copper gluepot. stating that the kitchen- 
maid had just found it in the oven, and had sent it in, imagining 
no doubt that it was something designed for breakfast, instead of 
being the old gentleman's powder magazine, containing about six 
pounds of Curtis and Harvey, which he had forgotten to remove 
after the evening's diversions. Eather a pleasant visitor this, 
who, when you did all you could for him, instead of thanking 
you. did his best to blow you up! 

You can't get ' the London gentleman " to understand that 
you have not an unlimited supply of horses and wheels. Brown, 
for instance greets me as he comes downstairs at eleven a.m., 
'dressed the character" to a nicety, and irreproachable as to 
knickerbockers, shooting jacket, and all the rest of it " I say, old 
fellow, would it be troubling you too much to send to your 
railway station for a little parcel from Purdey's ? The fact is, it's 
my cartridge extractor. I called at their place, but canie away 
and left it on the counter ; and depend on it, he has sent it down. 
I may not want it, you know, but it's as well to have it, if it's not 
troubling you too much." You see Brown can't get it out of his 
head that we have a cabstand close by. If there is anything 



BEOWN IN THE COUNTBY. 129 

wrong with his London groom or the horses (in fact, if his men 
or beasts are indisposed to work), he lifts up his finger ; a smart 
Hansom driver responds with that nod of the fraternity which 
is a mixture of condescension and acquiescence, and, pulling up 
short by the kerb stone, leans forward as he lifts the reins, and 
touching his hat brim, says in sharp accents, " What part ? " The 
shabby driver of the four wheeler, on the other hand, puts on an 
injured look when you hail him, and asks in dudgeon and a 
hoarse voice from behind his huge cotton necktie. "Vere to?" 
Probably he has just taken a sixpenny fare to the small-pox 
hospital, and is sorry for you ! 

Often in a village one horse is a bore for weeks together, and 
your man, tired with the monotony of doing nothing, sleeps half 
his time; but when you have three or four friends with you. four 
or five can't do it, and all of them begin to "'go a little feeling," 
or have what our veterinary surgeon calls "a favourite leg." 

Numbers of humane people believe that the amount of work 
you can get out of a horse depends on the amount of whip ; and 
many a man does not know a lame horse when he sees one, or 
rides behind or on I might better say over him. Jullien didn't; 
he almost lived in cabs, and every cabman knew him. He hadn't 
a very good eye for anything, they say ; and one day, as he stepped 
out of a Hansom, an intimate friend observed. "What a lame 
horse you've got. Jullien ! " "I never saw a lame horse in my 
life," he replied ; ' but I noticed that this one didn't move his feet 
in correct time." Many drivers are quite as ignorant as this great 
conductor, and few town visitors make allowances for the difficulties 
of country locomotion. 

One of the banes of country life is your friends' luggage. 
Doesn't it "work up'' your patent leather dashing irons? Are 
not ladies' boxes those with ragged iron corners nice things on 
the top of your pet brougham ? Did your ever pull up to give 
an agricultural parishioner a lift as you saw him toiling back 
from the doctor's with a hedge stake for a stick? If you did. 
didn't it set your teeth on edge to observe his efforts to ascend 
your Whitechapel ? and didn't he to a dead certainly put his 
hobnails on the shaft of it, and leave an impression on the paint 
and varnish reminding you of a crumpet, until you next paid 
seven pounds fourteen for painting and leather washers ? 

Hows and carriages are the great bores of country life, alwavs 
excepting that extinct animal the cook, and that raiv animal tin* 
obliging groom, who (before he gets his livery) will turn his hand 

K 



1^0 THE IDSTONE PAPEB8. 

to anything, but after he has got it doesn't get up till eight, and' 
then grumbles at his breakfast, and thinks the gardener, who is 
worked to death, ought to clean his boots. 

I was deluded into the country by the common error that 
everthing is so cheap. It's the same price for everything as in 
most places, buy what you will, only your must keep a horse to 
fetch it : and if you get a store the probability is that it becomes 
mouldy or is lost. " Such a pleasure, your metropolitan visitors 
say, to grow your own cabbages!" Why, they cost you half-a- 
crown apiece, and you must grow them or have none. Just as you 
want eggs the fowls are on strike, and won't lay, or the fox 
clears you out. I wish he would do that to me, but I fear the 
atmosphere of pheasants is "too mighty" for him, as they say 
here. 

" Bagmen" are the consequences of large " bags ;" and what a 
poor subterfuge it is at last, when the hounds won't break him 
up, and his brush is full of chaff and barley husks ! Wove wire 
is cheap enough ; why don't those who go in for their five 
hundred a day rear their long-tailed poultry in an inclosure of it, 
clip their wings, and let them out as they want them ? Or 
pheasant shooting from the trap would be a novelty, and a re- 
source for blank days ; let's try it ! 

But to go back to Brown, who, good fellow as he is, knows 
nothing of the difficulties of my situation that the drawing- 
room party want to go out ; that Purdey will certainly send his 
extractor to the post town, which is nine miles the other way 
from the station, and that probably it is now on its way in the 
letter bag ; that we have four miles to drive to the covert my 
friend shoots this morning, and that we are late now, and only 
waiting for the mail whose horn (the cart driver's) I hear now, 
and in five minutes I gladden Brown by the sight of a little 
parcel tied and sealed as though it contained diamonds, but 
which does contain the extractor, as I expected. 

We are off now. I hear the wheels of the waggonette, and 
the near-side horse, who is a bad starter, my man says and well 
he may be, with a collar two sizes too small, and curbed and 
bearing-reined, and gagged with a nose martingale won't leave 
home at any price. To put all these things to rights and 
change for a ring snaffle takes time ; but at last he comes 
round to the front. Then Brown, always fussy and " most 
particular," wants a soda and brandy, telling us one of those 
confounded dogs kept him awake all night. But I know better ; 



BEOWN IN THE COUNTRY. 131 

it was the crowing of our invalid rose-combed, feather-legged, 
pedigree Cochin China cockerel, not yet arrived at puberty and 
afflicted with the gapes and rickets, whose spasmodic attempts at 
articulation I can compare to nothing but the chorus of geese 
at the brook yonder and the donkey on the green when they 
vociferate I was going to say in unison ! Well, that valuable 
bird whose parents have occupied what fanciers call a " prize 
pen," and to whose merits my pen certainly can't do justice 
that rare specimen never begins until 8 a.m. : a poor excuse 
for soda and brandy certainly ! But. now it is suggested, the 
rest of my party vote it " not a bad thing," and a quarter, of an 
hour goes in that way. 

We start at last, have just cleared the gates, and I congratu- 
late myself on a good start, too, when Brown says, " Wey ! I say, 
do you think your friend would object to my taking my retriever ? 
You know one of your fellows can lead him, and he will follow 
us capitally." 

T don't like to hurt Brown's feelings, so my man runs back. I 
didn't know that Brown had brought a dog. He said nothing 
to me about it ; but I soon saw him now. He had been tied up 
in the stable, but with a length of chain allowing him to so 
effectually gnaw the stable door, that in the morning my groom 
saw half his head protruding as far, in fact, as his lynx eyes 
and, as he told me afterwards, he really thought it was some 
wild beast out of a show. 

The man ran back and released this monster a knock-kneed, 
bitter-beer-coloured one, and, having done so, not looking to see 
where he went, ran to resume his place with us ; but no dog 
appeared. We tried the usual plan. Every one called " Rock" 
that was the brute's name ; and the stable-boy whistled, 
standing exactly in the wrong place, of course. Five minutes 
gone and a long hill to climb, with a very fair load too ! At 
last Brown went himself, and found his retriever with his head in 
the hog-tub foraging for scraps. He condescended to notice 
Brown at last, and for about a mile he followed moderately well ; 
then he began to flag, and we had occasionally to wait for him, 
generally on the steepest part of the road ; and after rolling over 
and over upon a dead rook, or something worse, and that too when 
he had just refreshed himself with a horsepond bath. Brown sug- 
gested that " we should lose him if we didn't take him up." 

I thought such a contingency possible, and I regret to add 
that I rejoiced at it. What could be better than to escape the- 

K 2 



132 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

responsibility of such a sinister-eyed, bat-eared, shambling, flat- 
sided street dog ? And then I didn't care about the respon- 
sibility of introducing a friend's dog as well as a friend. 

There was not much time lost in deliberation, for when we 
stopped he eyed us suspiciously, and turned for home. Brown's 
hurried descent from the vehicle was his signal to mend his pace 
(he didn't know Brown well), and with a look over his shoulder, 
he broke into a sort of long wolf's gallop until he came to four 
cross roads, when he took the wrong turn of course, and was 
immediately out of sight. 

A man of Brown's temperament, who has no domestic cares, 
no school bills or doctors' bills either, makes troubles when he 
can ; and I needn't say my friend was inconsolable. There was 
nothing for it but to follow him. " Never mind the shooting," 
he said ; " I would not lose that dog for fifty pounds. Turn 
round sharp, old fellow ; here, let me drive ; you can gallop 
this bottom and spring the little hill in no time." But, as the 
changing seats took time, we got over that difficulty, and I 
expressed my willingness to do the best I could for him. 

There is something ridiculous in the pursuit of a dog. It is 
more humiliating than a hat chase in a high wind. In fact, 
you are following an animal which is supposed to follow you, 
and at a manifest disadvantage. In this case the dog was not 
worth following nor, indeed, worth catching which deprived 
the catastrophe of all excitement. The truant didn't awake any 
feeling but fear. 

Two young ladies and a governess behind a gate told us a mad 
dog with his tongue out was just gone on ; and a clodhopper, 
with hedging gloves and a billhook, who listened to their remarks 
with grave interest from the opposite hedge, corroborated their 
statement, and showed us by arm-measurement in pantomime 
that the animal's tongue hung out about a foot and a half. We 
nearly reached the dog in about a mile, when some labourer, 
evidently badly impressed by his appearance, gave him a cut with 
his prong to help him on, and merely regarded Brown's clenched 
fist and objurgations with a look of stolid indifference as we drove 

ty- 

We are up with him again now ! for we have been doing 

twelve miles good in the hour, aiid every stride makes us propor- 
tionately late for our engagement ; but this time I feel sure we 
have him. He seems to recognise Brown's endearments just as 
we approach a mended piece of road ; but the rattle of the 



BBOWN IN THE COUNTRY. 133 

wheels on the loose stones starts him, and I suggest giving up 
the chase. Brown agrees, and I am afraid that he consigned the 

dog to a very indifferent master " Let him go to the ." 

I didn't catch the last word, owing to those freshly -broken flints ; 
and with that Brown lit a fresh cigar, and dropped his cigar- 
case. 

" Woa one minute, old fellow ; now we are right again. 
Thank you" (to my groom, who had got down to recover it, and 
now handed it back to him). "A dog/' Brown moralised as we 
went on, " a dog, especially when he doesn't know you, is the 
most inf " but here we got to some rough road again, and I lost 
what I have heard old people call "the thread" of his discourse. 
I don't know what the thread was, but he certainly applied such 
a string of epithets to Eock as I never heard rivalled, except by 
a Scotch keeper, who used to reason with his dogs in Gaelic, and 
expect the dogs to understand him. 

" I only hope, Brown," I said, for I wanted to give him a 
crumb of comfort " I only hope your dog won't do what those 
two pointers did that my friends got at Salisbury." And, as I 
found Brown not indisposed to listen, I went on to tell him. 

" It was in the old coaching days, you know, Brown, and these 
two men were going off on leave together. They were in some 
heavy regiment, and it was about the beginning of August. 
They got to Salisbury about midday, and ' the coach' lunched 
there ; if they wanted an extra half hour they could have it, as 
Bob, who used to drive it, sympathised with a man who wouldn't 
be hurried over his dinner, and could always keep his time, 
getting there a few minutes before and leaving a few minutes 
late, and galloping the bottoms, and all that." 

"Go on," Brown muttered; " I know Bob well enough; tall 
fellow played the bugle wore his hat on one side." 

" Well," I continued, " they were just come out from luncheon, 
or dinner, or whatever it was, when a fellow came up dressed like 
a keeper, with a brace of uncommonly nice-looking pointers 
whip sterns, you know." 

"Go on," said Brown; "I know what the story is. They 
were prigged from old Alec Wyndhaui's, and " 

" I beg your pardon." I went on. " They gave the fellow five 
or six pounds for them, and arranged to take them on inside the 
coach, ' with the proviso, mind,' as Bob told them with the 
proviso, that if a lady wants to get in those dogs must come 
out.' 



134 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

" There was no need of the proviso, and they and their new 
masters reached their destination. The dogs seemed to know 
their work, and the two friends nearly came to words as to which 
should have the brace, it seemed such a pity to part them. At 
last the biggest one with the most money became the owner ; and 
do you know, Brown, I always have thought that the little one 
smelt a rat. 

"They were staying together all the 'leave,' and they had 
some rented shooting and a sort of villa. Well, one day they 
neglected to tie up these dogs (there were no kennels), and for 
three or four days the dogs were missing. 

"' Ah, well,' the little one said, 'it's all right; they've got 
names on their collars, and I dare say they'll turn up.' And so 
they did, for one day, a wet rainy one, as the two friends were 
rubbing their noses against the windows waiting for it to clear 
up, an old shepherd came to the backdoor leading these two 
pointers, which seemed positively in better condition than when 
they absconded ; and this was accounted for when the messenger 
handed in a note, a dirty crumpled one, from a farmer about 
fifteen miles away, stating that these dogs had been caught in the 
act of worrying his ewes, and that off and on they had killed 
over two score, eating only the kidney fat, and sending also a very 
pretty bill indeed, with deductions for the skins. The story got 
to the regiment somehow, and when they wanted to rile the pro- 
prietor of these sporting dogs, they had only to order mashed 
potatoes and kidneys for breakfast, I can tell you. 

"Holloa, Brown ! " for I see that he has not heard a word ; 
" wasn't that a gun ? " 

"Yes, and there is another. They've begun without us." 

" I shall put all the blame on you. You Londoners are always 
getting us into trouble in the country ! " 

Brown isn't in a joking humour, and, as we pull up at the old 
wrought-iron gates and he touches his hat to the under keeper 
left to pilot us, he eyes a tough ash plant that functionary carries 
in his hand, and I believe that he would like to give it us all 
round; but he is a "prefect" no longer, and I am not his fag. So 
he hands me a big " regalia," and remarks "Make some allow- 
ance for me, old fellow ; I wasn't brought up in the country, and 
unless there happened to be plenty of society, and good society 
too, I shouldn't care to live in it for more than a month or two 
at a time." I think any sensible man will agree with him, un- 
less he has a park, a groom of the chambers, and, what is better 



BROWN IN THE COUNTRY". 135 

than these even, a contented mind and a gift for country occupa- 
tions and amusements. 

The shooting it was a battue, with "stops." "beaters," a 
"bouquet" at the end of the principal covert, and a luncheon 
brought out in a Norway kitchen (which may be improvised with 
railway wrappers and a saucepan) was just like other battues, 
.and need not be described. I may observe, though, that at the 
very last, just as we were coming to the end of a covert singularly 
short of birds, a large fox broke away, and that there was a chorus 
of " Tally-hoes "ending in a laugh : for it was Brown s bitter- 
beer-coloured dog pointing for the carriages, the white tag at the 
end of his tail streaming in the wind. He was captured by one 
of the servants, whom he bit through the hand immediately, and 
Brown ordered his execution next morning. 

He now fertilises the soil round our Bibston pippin, and since 
his burial we have had an excellent crop yearly. We always 
contrive to place this dish opposite to Brown, and we call them 
-"Bock " pippins, for each apple hung on a "cordon," and so did 
Bock. 



136 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XVII. 
THE EARTHSTOPPKRS' FEAST. 

IF I see my saddle room in very precise order the spare bits 
and curb-chains with an extra burnish ; the saddles " sample " 
and polished like an old-fashioned mahogany; every collar, spare 
trace, kicking strap, knee cap, and "foot swab " looked over and 
fit for the exhibition case of a west-end saddler ; when a new 
straw plait is down in the stable, the buckets have been scrubbed 
and filled with fair water, and the nags look extra well I know 
one of two things is imminent : my man either wants ' a day 
out," or, " if it's convenient, he would like to settle." 

This was the state of things one morning in the middle of 
May, and less than half a score of years ago, when I came down 
about an hour before breakfast, and took a turn round the pre- 
mises in that excellent humour which proceeds from a capital 
appetite with no immediate prospect of satisfying it. 

I was not in the best of tempers ; and my men, who are true 
disciples of Lavater, were not long in recognising it. The first I 
met gave " the office " to No. 2 ; and I knew as well as if they 
had spoken to me when one said to the other, " Little cloudy 
this morning. Bill ; shouldn't wonder if we has a storm before 
night." To this William (with a wink which I saw through the 
privet hedge). '' Shouldn't wonder, Mr. Smith (this was irony) ; 
it do look black, sure enough." Now I thought I would disap- 
point their expectations ; so I called " Mr. Smith " and suggested 
a look through the kennels. 

Mr. Smith was all alacrity, and when he had fetched his keys 
we looked over the setters together. Everything was as it should 
be gravel without a soil, floors untainted, drains clear, troughs 
clean scoured and put out to air, plenty of water in the cast-iron 
pans, chains and couples all hung up in the little spare yard ; 
dogs glossy, bright-eyed, with coats like satin ; feeding house a 
pattern of neatness no waste ; all utensils scoured and bright ; 
and the few dog boxes we use had been lime-washed and sprinkled 
with carbolic acid and water for fear of ticks* The beds had 



THE EARTHSTOPPEBS' FEAST. 137 

new red-deal shavings, and, to use Smith's words, he didn't 
believe there was a ' vlea " about the place ; " and as for rats," 
he went on, " why, no rat in his senses would bide where there 
are such ferrets as these" and so saying, he took up a goodish 
handful of them, polecat and white together, all active, clean, 
and with thick pile all over them standing straight on end. like 
those long-bodied, straight-tailed terriers which take their name 
from the Isle of Skye. and move mysteriously, for they seem to 
have no legs. 

There is no admittance to these kennels except on business, 
and a knock at the outer door roused my stud setter, who set his- 
hackles up, and rushed at the panels open-mouthed. 

My housekeeper (Mrs. Brownrigg we call her, for she is just 
the sort of woman to all appearance as that worthy was, or 
should have been, who tortured her apprentices ; but a better 
sort of dragon, or one more expert at managing, never ate my 
bread) my housekeeper brought a letter which she told me had 
been conveyed by <i boy. She is no physiognomist, and she 
judged of his years by his proportions ; for that boy was Harry, 
the second whip, aged what shall I say ? well, about two score, 
and weighing after a hearty breakfast about eight stone. He 
was sitting, when I went out to him, in an easy attitude, on 
what he told me was ' a young Irish oss, as master chopped 
for ; " but before this information was given to me. in a grating 
voice strongly impregnated with Yorkshire dialect, he touched 
his low-crowned hat, and. having stuck his whip under his thigh, 
was diving into the breast pocket of his old stained red coat for 
' a bit of a note" he had brought, and which he said he expected 
would require an answer. 

As the "dog pack'' was outside, he then left us to look after 
the straggling hounds which were basking in the road, and I 
went in to answer the master's letter. It was but a few lines, 
asking me to accompany him to the earthstoppers' feast " on 
Tuesday next.'' as I had expressed a wish in the beginning of the 
season to be present at this annual gathering. I write to 
''accept. " and from my window I see Harry place my envelope 
carefully beneath the lining of his hat, and in the interval of his 
long pulls at the pewter tankard he rates and remonstrates with 
a few vagrant hounds which have picked up a lamb's foot and 
quarrel over it, Now I gather why all about the premises is so 
spick and span, the kennels all white and trim, and the jug of 
lilacs and wisterias is set out upon the saddle-room table. The 



138 THE IDSTONE PAPEBB. 

men want half a day to go to the dinner, which is one of 
their rare and valuable holidays. Smith (Mr. Smith) gets his 
" reg'lar '' invitation ; and the groom must go, and dines after- 
wards with the two or three other gentlemen in livery and the 
waiter on joints "kep' back a purpose." 

An earthstopper's dinner nowadays is an assemblage of game- 
keepers, whippers-in, kennel men, grooms, helpers, working 
bailiffs, with here and there a fanner who patronises the festivity. 
and perchance has made a " whip " for the benefit of those who 
in their humble way are friendly to the hunt. The old earth- 
stopper, with his horn lantern, spade, billhook, rough pony, and 
rougher terrier, whom Cooper loved to paint, in his worn, 
huntsman's coat, stained leathers, and scarlet waistcoat, is seldom 
met. In the last generation such an old crony existed, and might 
be seen the first at the covert side or near it, with his spade on 
his shoulder, and a hard-bitten, scarred-faced terrier coiled up, and 
shivering in his sleep- the man was a sort of hanger-on to every 
hunt, drawing many a shilling for his shrewd guesses as to a likely 
find ; and when the fox broke making his way from point to 
point, cutting corners, opening gates, now and then making gaps 
for the ''middle-aged." the nervous, or the men in trousers 
services to be requited surreptitiously "some other time " by old 
clothes, broken meat, a long pint at the nearest public, the change 
at the turnpike, or a lift to or from the next assembly of hounds 
and horses in the back seat of the dogcart. 

A faithful henchman, too, he was. I have one in my eye, 
always in his place ready to dig a fox. keen as a hound at the 
sport, and with a rare eye and voice, but prepared at a moment's 
notice to help catch a horse, scrape a "field officer," lead a child's 
pony, or go back with a lame hound a score of miles without 
waiting for a gratuity ; civil to soured huntsman or misanthropical 
second whip, left behind to get the rest of the pack out of covert ; 
and all at what shall I say? Well, 10s. per week "reglar," 
and the odd money. His class has passed away. Occasionally 
you find a labourer or two who will incur any amount of brow- 
beating but they will see the hounds ; and the sound of a horn, or 
the sun glinting upon a scarlet coat or two contrasted, let us 
say, with the squire's flake-white hunter or the hill yonder will 
draw half a village to see the sport. 'Tis bred in an Englishman, 
whether he be peer or pauper, and, unless he is all but a fool, he 
will be there. The only human beings I have ever discovered 
who are indifferent to sport are schoolmasters, and occasionally 



THE EARTHSTOPPERS' FEAST. 130 

Bish oh, I forgot, foxhunting is a pomp or a vanity, or 
both, and forbidden to the church ! 

But, though the earthstopper is extinct as an individual, earths 
must be stopped before daylight, by keepers or their subordinates, 
and many a good day's sport is spoiled by their neglect, or from 
M.F.H.'s forgetting to remind them of their duty. 

At two or three o'clock of a winter's morning he has to go 
round the earths, to face the raw air, sleet, rain, or snow, and 
secure the entrance of Pug's earth, whilst he is travelling for love 
or food ; or it forms part of his night's work as he goes his 
rounds with his brindled night dog, and. in his fur cap. big top- 
coat, and mufflers, resembles Herne the Hunter or the ghost of a 
German courier, or any outlandish man or animal you will. 
Years ago a donkey hide, with the hair outside and holes for the 
arms, was gravely recommended for the purpose : and I know one 
or more night watchmen who are clad from head to foot in red 
deerskins, and thus attired are safe from cold or wet or vigilance ! 

But it is not only the earthstopping that you want a keeper to 
attend to he ought to be the natural guardian of the cubs. It 
only costs him a charge of powder and shot to kill a few rabbits 
for the breeding vixen ; or to save the rats, especially the young 
ones, for her larder, and to generally look out for her at that 
"trying time when she has so many mouths to feed, and so little 
power or energy to provide for them ; and if he is a good-hearted 
fellow, he will do this for his own sake, as well as his master's 
for nothing is so likely to damage his reputation for pheasants as 
two or three hungry "mother foxes." or his master's, when the 
time comes, as to have his coverts drawn blank. A few young 
rooks, a jackdaw or two. and now and then a jay, or even a hawk, 
are better left where they fall than nailed upon his vermin 
board : a thing well enough in its way, but sometimes offering a 
strange contradiction to the manor itself frequently full of 
hawks and weasels, but barren of game indeed ! 

It is true enough that merely giving fees to keepers won't 
insure their being friendly to the fox ; but it will secure the 
honest ones ; as none of them would take the sovereigns at an 
annual dinner and strychnine the foxes on his beat. If he did, 
he would deserve any punishment these modern days permit ; and 
he might be put on a par with the garotter. and share his stripes, 
I think, witli perfect fairness. 

But enough of this digression. The day came ; Smith walked 
on, and I followed some hours after, with my groom. I just 



140 THE ID8TONE PAPEBS. 

caught sight of Mr. Smith as he started full-blown for " The- 
Eoyal Oak," about ten miles from us, where this feast had been 
held for two or three score of years. A new olive velveteen coat 
he wore, with the sleeves turned back to display the linings, 
which were serge or twilled cotton, known as " swansdown," or 
perhaps to let the public see the wristbands of his scarlet shirt. 
'Twas a decidedly baggy garment, cut to pieces with vast pockets, 
and skirts that overlapped behind, and formed a sort of fish tail, 
or a kite's ; waistcoat the same, and a crimson cotton scarf ; 
corduroy breeches, and deer-skin gaiters ; lace boots, bran new, 
suggestive of galled feet and corns prospectively ; and the whole 
surmounted by a felt hat, so hard and heavy to all appearance 
that your head reeled to look at it. In his hand he carried an 
'' ash plant," a foot too long, and also new that day. I subse- 
quently discovered this to be the popular full-dress, excepting 
always helpers and ostlers, who appeared in stable suits of tweed, 
and in trousers which must have been miraculously put on, and 
appeared so tight that they could only be removed by super- 
natural powers, or piecemeal. 

The " banquet " commenced at three o'clock nominally, but 
we were told it would not be punctual, as several of the gueste 
came from a distance ; and, besides, there was some business to 
be transacted before they sat down, which would perhaps give a 
zest to the men's appetites. It was, therefore, full twenty minutes 
after two before I ordered my cart round to the door. It had 
been drawn out of the coach house half an hour before, and I 
never saw my grey put to with such alacrity. My man jumped 
in as we walked off, folded his arms, and seemed not only in a 
vehicle, but in Elysium. 

As we passed the keeper's. I missed his dark chesnut forest 
pony in the paddock, and I could track his -'trap" directly I 
passed his cottage, by the "wobbling" of its off-wheel and its 
deeper impression on the wet road ; for he was not only an impor- 
tant man, but physically weighty, and he was only counterpoised in 
his equipage by his " boy." As we neared " The Oak," we overtook 
iuen in various shades of velveteen, in every sort of conveyance, 
and one small thick-set pony was dropping down the hill at a 
smart trot and with a loose rein, impelled by no less than five 
human beings (if not Christians), whilst an aristocratic glossy 
black retriever, underneath, was keeping within two inches of the 
little animal's heels. Now and then we passed an under keeper, or 
trapper, walking along with his coat over his arm, and his face 



THE EARTHSTOPPEBS FEAST. 141 

Ted as a peony ; and presently we came alongside of the liound 
van, drawn by a pair of rough-and-ready steppers which would 
Have been at home in a London "bus," or on their master's 
"arable." These were tooled by the huntsman, a wiry-looking 
man of forty, with very thin legs and a low crowned hat. He 
was airing his new stable suit for the first time probably, and was 
conveying his two whips, feeder, kennel men, head boiler, and 
clansmen to "The Oak." with a very self-satisfied impressive air. 

Though forty only, his face was much seamed aii-1 fun-owed ; 
in fact, it seemed to be as rough and seared by care or weather, 
or both, as a Savoy cabbage, and wore as sour an expression as 
the old white terrier with torn ears that sat on the footboard 
between his legs. Indeed, but for their costumes and a few 
flowers in their button holes, they might all have been going to a 
funeral ; but this solemn expression, accompanied by the want of 
front teeth, and high cheek bones, is peculiar to the craft. After 
passing this dark-coloured vehicle, which was not unlike a " Shil- 
libeer," we came up to "my lord's keeper," in a high dark green 
game cart, with a coronet on the backboard, and crowns of brass 
on winkers, loin straps, collar, hood, pad. and the cheeks of the 
bit itself. Quite a remarkable person I assure you. was this 
" keeper to my lord," and wearing trousers and coat en suite, of 
that tint distinguished as "donkey brown." The second coach- 
man drove, and these two might be described as " attending " 
under protest, and leaving their mark upon the meeting. The 
head keeper, I remember, wore a white high-crowned hat, with a 
black band round it, known as " butchers' mourning," and what 
are ordinarily known as "mutton chop " whiskers. 

A little further on, and we are at the Eoyal Oak, which stands 
on a down, with a garden inclosed by clipped yew hedges, an old 
bowling green in front, and a skittle alley ; two score of yards off 
are fir trees in a clump, with settles and benches round them, and 
groups of keepers and servants to the number of thirty, forty, or 
perhaps more. The house itself must have been a substantial 
one when fifteen or sixteen coaches passed and repassed daily ; 
for the high road between two large cities runs parallel with its 
old bow windows ; the long range of low stables still remains, and 
they are pretty full to-day. 

Inside, the house is all abuzz with business, and the waiters are 
running about in their shirt sleeves with cans of beer and porter, 
and clumps of "grogs " on trays. A brace of foxhound puppies 
out at walk here for the landlord is a hunting man are wan- 



142 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

deiing from one group to another, and are subjected to the- 
severest scrutiny as to loins, shoulders, heads, legs, gaskins, thighs, 
and resemblance to old Lancelot by Lexicon out of Lady Blush, 
by the Belvoir Guider. These criticisms are not finished until a 
mail phaeton is seen coming along the flat, and containing the- 
master and a friend or two ; he dismounts presently with a heavy 
leather bag of moderate size, and a shoulder-strap fixed to it, like 
those the betting men carry at the small provincial meetings ; and 
better replenished this one is than some of theirs ! 

It must take a middling good horse to carry him, for he must 
be over fourteen stone ; about five feet eight inches, or there- 
abouts, with a good deal of waistcoat ; but below he falls off 
suddenly, and if he were a horse we should say that he was 
over-topped. A man of fifty, hale, and with good teeth ; but 
his hair is white, so he looks older. He has keen grey eyes, a 
good profile, and a smile and good word for everybody. He just 
glances at the long old parlour, where the tables are spread for 
dinner where, as of yore, there are trophies formed of hunting 
whips, horns with the ends corked up and utilised as flower vases, 
and scrolls of painted calico with appropriate mottoes and 
devices. He will empty that bag presently amongst the keepers, 
three guineas to one, two to another, and so on ; and the smiling 
landlady, whose face is parboiled with looking after the puddings 
and peering through the steam, ushers him into the bar parlour 
to that end. 

My lord's keeper and one more, a very stout, florid one 
indeed, whose black velveteen is heavily braided with broad 
worsted, introduce the recipients, who are awkward and bashful 
before company, and wipe their shoes from sheer embarrassment, 
ere they cross the threshold : but, as paying money doesn't take 
long, they are soon settled with, and the waiters begin to clamber 
upstairs with the joints, enveloped in a fragrant steam. 

'Twas a regular dinner a la rustic, but a sight worth seeing. 
There was no scrambling for precedence, however, and bashful- 
ness seemed the great feature of the assembled company. The 
M.F.M. took the chair of course, for he was the host paying, I 
think, five shillings per head for the entertainment, including a 
certain amount of beer ; the rest the men paid for themselves, 
but, as each pocket had been well replenished from the Squire's 
capacious " portemonnaie," this didn't matter. As I was a 
stranger, and not professionally included, I was at the right 
hand of the chair, whence I could see a long double line of 



THE EARTHSTOPPEBS' FEAST. 143 

stalwart forms resolving themselves into their appointed places 
preparatory to the short but simple grace. 

At the bottom the vice-chairman a brewer, a welter weight, 
but a genuine foxhunter, with a genial, intelligent, and uncom- 
monly good-looking face was preparing for the onslaught on the 
viands ; but my friend knew better, and got his butler to carve 
for him. There were no soups or fish or entrees, of course, but 
plain roast and boiled, with salads, cucumbers, and vegetables, 
fresh and wholesome looking. The old room with its three bay 
windows overlooking the wide expanse of down and the highway, 
had seen many a goodly company assembled in it ; and through 
the green glass, overshadowed now with blooming lilacs and 
'golden chain," which made the air heavy with its perfume, a 
little knot of highwaymen years ago had watched the inside and 
outside passengers completing their supper, and as they rose 
from table galloped on to intercept them and rob the mail. 

The old pictures, telling of the sports now happily passed away, 
were obliterated by the smoke of years, but I could make out a 
series of tableaux depicting the " noble sport," engraved after 
Eeinagle at any rate, that of Byron's Jack Musters on his grey, 
cheering his hounds and some coloured prints of cocking, in 
one of which a black victor is dragging his adversary across the pit. 

I had all the noted characters graphically described to me one 
by one by the host, who would really dine at eight, with expla- 
natory notes occasionally rendered in a deep bass by my left-hand 
neighbour, a goggle-eyed, red-faced keeper of perhaps twenty 
stone or more, and whose small-eyed, razor-backed, foxy-faced 
terrier was a remarkable contrast to her master. " That big 
Hercules with the red hair and high shoulders is the feeder ; the 
first whip, with the pork bone in his fingers, is opposite to him. 
you see ; and the man sticking his fork into a potato is the 
rough rider. That fellow in the white tie with the little gold 
brooch is the second horseman. He came from William Day's." 
"And that," said the goggle-eyed keeper, cutting into the con- 
versation, " is Bill Bishop the saddler, who has more tongue than 
brains, and takes care of every man's business except his own ;" 
for the keeper whose eves were like the patent white castors on 
Gillow's best sofas in form, and unlike them in only one respect, 
that they were never still looked suspiciously on everyone, not 
excepting his own wife, who was a good-looking though bad- 
tempered young woman of fifty-eight, with angular eyebrows and 
sharp finger nails to boot. 



144 THE roSTONE PAPERS. 

It was a long business, and the universal taste seemed to be to 
have a cut at everything. The plum puddings, however, went 
like lightning, and one keeper opposite to me, who had what I 
mistook for a brown crust at his left hand, but which I subse- 
quently discovered to be his fist, devoured a whole " boiling " in a 
twinkling. '' Night watching," my left-hand neighbour told me, 
" gives a man a terrible appetite, and sometimes I've been pretty 
nigh ready to eat my night dog ; the sourer you are. the more 
you eats !" At the last moment a waiter handed round in a bowl 
what I in my innocence believed to be yellow soap, but it proved 
to be very waxy cheese, which was received with much relish, 
though apparently as indigestible as the ' night dog" already 
alluded to ; and as the five shillings per head had now been 
consumed, the entertainment became, I supposed, a personal 
affair. But first there appeared and it seemed a solecism in 
the entertainment half a dozen tureens, as I imagined, of mock 
turtle, clear gravy, and other soups, which proved to be " punch," 
contributed by the vice ; and then came the chairman's hammer 
(lent by a hard-riding auctioneer), sundry long faggots of pipes, 
and cigars for the "high table." Next came ''the usual loyal 
and patriotic toasts," followed by the vice-chairman's requesting 
permission, which was granted, and the M. F. H. was so bespattered 
with compliments that a helper opposite my ox-eyed neighbour 
declared he never saw any one better dressed over in all his life. 
Of course the chairman replied, and well buttered his vis-a-vis. 
Then Goggle-eyes sang a song about "William and Mary" in a 
wood : but, as he sang Mary's modest replies in a deep bass and 
inexpressibly loud voice, the illusion was imperfect. 

Such was the entertainment for about two hours, when two 
keepers at the further end came to loggerheads about a dog and 
a badger. The dispute soon ranged from dog and badger to 
personalities ; thence they came to arguments as to strength, 
comeliness, and respectability, not forgetting certain delinquencies 
on the part of their female olive branches ; and the last I saw 
of this friendly meeting I can only describe as a melee and tableau 
vivant of Babylon, which the chairman vainly strove to quell ; 
but I believe that the dispute was ultimately settled on the lawn, 
the aggressor being, as usual, the man who had volunteered to 
his neighbour that he " would never see him hurted," and 
followed up this assurance with an assault. 

My man, I am happy to say, was sober, except his eyes, which 
hung out of his head like a lobster's ; and as he prepared to 



THE EAETHSTOPPEES' FEAST. 145 

start me without fastening the pad girth, perhaps his disease 
extended to the brain. Be that as it may, he begged to call my 
attention to his legs, which, he assured me, " drink what he 
would, never got limp." More extraordinary than all, he had 
only drunk two glasses of table beer ; and the master's butler 
"guv" him one "small drop" of sherry. 

I don't think that I should care to go to another entertainment 
of the sort. 



146 THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 



PAPEE XVIII. 

THE WHITE SNIPE. 

IT was about Christmas time, and before any enterprising gun- 
maker had thought of breech-loaders, that I got an invitation, 
badly spelt, though written by an Oxford man, to start for his 
father's " place " and have a bit of skating (he spelt it " skate- 
ing ") on the flood ice, and to shoot wild fowl. 

As he is still " to the fore " (though rather bald, a trifle florid, 
and taking such a lot of stuff to make a waistcoat that he may 
be said to " carry all before him," not only as county member of 
Parliament deputy lieutenant), I shall not say where he lives. 
Times have altered him since he rode Brown Stout, Old Plenipo, 
Victoria mare, Aerated, and drove Vanish, or " King Dairius," as 
the stable men called him, to Chapel House, or what Jem Hill 
called "Braddle Grove," and with a seat almost as good as 
Mason's sent his horse along with the best of them, and generally 
landed safely. 

He had been well entered as a boy, and rejoiced to see "hunt- 
ing " pure and simple. The first day he rode with the Heythrop, 
Jem and the " Flying Captain " (whom heaven preserve !) pro- 
nounced him " quite a sort ;" and when Jem, as he got forward, 
saw him taking his line a bit wide to the right of the hounds, 
and going straight for some pollard willows which looked ominous, 
he was heard to say "it was a shame them small knees of his'n 
should ever be hid in trousers, even to go to chapel." 

Hereditary gout has done its worst for him now, and he could 
write his name on the door with the chalk that forms in his 
knuckles. He had symptoms of this gentlemanly disorder at the 
time I landed at his door, and his father was then, waistcoat and 
all, the counterpart of what the son is now. 

'Twas an old-fashioned Christmas, " frosty, but kindly " not 
such a one as we have lately put up with, fog, mist, drizzle, mud, 
and water or that sort of Australian Christmas when you put 
the fire out and wear a spring coat and summer waistcoat, or 
shoot the coverts in a straw hat and alpaca jacket. It was a hard 



THE WHITE SNIPE. 147 

frost a vei-y hard one and a clear sky all blue, without a cloud. 
Snow had fallen in the night, and where the sun had melted it 
had frozen into "ice candles," as they call them here ; while the 
turnpike roads were sometimes a sheet o c ice for miles together. A 
hilly road with the skid worse than useless, is not a pleasant 
thing for four horses and a heavy load of holiday people, who 
have to journey thus twenty or thirty miles to reach a station ; 
but Old Will Black Will he used to be called drew the leaders' 
reins through his hand, went slowly off the top of the worst 
"pitch," and got down well. More than that, in spite of delay 
and sleepy horsekeepers, we caught the train with about two 
minutes in hand ; for when we heard the whistle, a quarter of 
.a mile from home, Will hit his leaders under the bars, and 
galloped the run in, though the old lady on the backgammon 
lx>ard, as it was called, clutched the outside rail of her seat, and 
apostrophised Will, whom she called " driver.'' 

If I had been telling this story thirty years ago, I might have 
described the railway journey and the tunnels ; but they are now 
well-beaten ground. At that time it was a sort of heroism to 
travel on the rails, and Black Will, as I gave him his fee, touched 
his hat, and behind his milk-white shawl with the blue spots 
wished me safe through the bridges. That was a favourite vale- 
dictory remark with the old stagers, who believed in nothing but 
Battle and leather, and wished the iron pot and its belongings 
anywhere, somewhere, or nowhere. 

I think a vague idea of risk and uncertainty always floats upon 
the mind even now, as we rattle over viaducts, crash over those 
tremulous girder bridges, dash through junctions, meet express 
trains, or glide down inclines at sixty miles an hour with the 
steam shut off ; and that even commercial travellers, whose lives 
are spent in rapid flights across the country, and who may be said 
to be used to it, must breathe more freely when they reach their 
destination and are at rest for that night. Such was my feeling, 
at any rate, when I gave up niy ticket at the coldest little station 
in broad England, which, standing some twenty or thirty feet 
above the level, commands an extensive view of a flat platoau, all 
dykes, reeds, black bog-water, and dun-grey withered grass. 

Here and there, along the track we are to follow in the broug- 
ham, are white posts to mark the way in times of flood ; and now 
and then we come upon a tree, struggling to live, but growing all 
aside, bent over by the prevailing wind, which blows generally 
south-west across the wold, and are guided by that purple and gold 

L2 



148 THE 1DSTONE PAPEES. 

hill in the distance, behind which, and the old minster on the top 
of it, the sun is setting in a bank of clouds. 

;> Woa!" says the close-shaved saturnine London coachman; 
for his horses, cold with waiting, are all abroad and restless at 
the shrill whistle of the starting train, which soon shows us its 
red light at its rear as the last guard's van leaves us in the 
gloomy station as though we were outcasts. The ducks, 
pochards, widgeon, teal, and a heron or two from the large rail- 
way reservoir of ten or a dozen acres, roused by the train, swing 
across the telegraph wires and are getting well up to be off ta 
sea. There are but two passengers left behind ; my fellow 
traveller has a pony-cart waiting for him, with a rough-and-ready 
white pony that can go, I warrant ; but, as I have a brougham 
in readiness, and probably am good for a shilling, the porter is all 
alive for me, and won't allow the footman with the " smoke- 
jack " in his hat to touch anything but the gun case, so "' them 
'ot 'osses " of the squire's have little time to wait. The coach- 
man has smoothed his own feelings by a little objurgation which 
I am not supposed to hear, and by a cut or two to the quietest of 
the pair, because, being on the off side, he is the easiest to hit ; 
but he gives a rapid touch to his hat as I appear, and when the 
door is slammed he walks them off about four or five yards, and 
then trots on. 

An outside lamp reflects a good light from the little window 
in the back, and here are the cigar case and some lights put 
ready to my hand, and a wicker flask of cherry brandy, which 
hails from Copenhagen, and with which I shall shake hands 
presently, for we have five miles of trotting ground, and a bleak 
road too. 

Four miles or so, and the sun gone down. I can see the 
rabbits crossing the road, and, dazzled by the lamps, running 
almost under the horses' feet. And now, suddenly turning to 
the right through an old pair of wrought-iron gates, which 
would not have disgraced Quentin Matsys, we climb a steep 
winding hill, and from the terrace in front of my friend's home 
a large manor house I look down across the wold, where the- 
light of the station I have left is glimmering in the distance. 

A fine old hall that wide stone porch leads to, with deep bay 
windows, and black oak seats in their recesses, and a carved roof, 
with thirty or forty foxes' brushes disposed amongst the old 
picture frames, peacocks' skins hung up at intervals, and an old 
suit of armour, pikes, and beheading knives. The glass case in 



THE WHITE SNIPE. 149 

the centre being filled with memorials of the ancient Britons and 
the forays of the Roman legions, together with flint celts and 
arrow-heads, for the father of my college chum is an antiquarian, 
archaeologist, collector of coins, and always on the look-out for 
what the earth may give up when a new ditch is dug. or any 
mass of soil is removed to make way for the improvements of 
modern days. 

I have not time to notice much of this, however ; for the butler. 
in a superhuman white tie, and a twin brother to my footman of 
the brougham, are divesting me of my blue Witney ; and at the 
same moment out come father and son to give me a thorough 
English welcome one that gets warmer and more genial the 
higher you go northwards. We don't waste much time before 
the blazing stove in the hall, the sides of which are almost cherry 
red and all aglow, but repair by the wide old staircase to my 
bedroom, passing on the way the large open doors of the saloon 
a vast upstairs drawing-room, in fact, with a fire at each end 
of it, commanding a view of the wide sluggish river which 
bounds the flower-garden and bowling-green, and from the balcony 
of which the old man, with his binocular, could watch his son's 
movements on a moonlight night, as this was (for the moon had 
risen grandly since I had arrived), when he was working up to 
ducks and preparing for a shot with his long duck gun. But 
just now each side of the swollen river was frozen over, and the 
"launching punt" was as firrnlv fixed as the Resolute in the 
Arctic regions. 

It made you shiver as you looked behind the curtains from the 
old oriel window of the saloon, and Fred (that's the name of my 
friend whose waistcoat is now so large, and whose two eldest 
daughters are married) called my attention to the dinner bell. 
which, after ringing a few strokes in measured time, had put on 
a spurt, or, as we used to say of the chapel bell, had " begun TO 
swear." 

Skating was the general topic: for the ice "flood ice'' it 
was was beautiful, and we were half inclined to have an hour's 
exercise by the help of the moon and torchlight : but the motion 
was lost on a show of hands. Billiards and a cigar wore carried 
unanimously, and so to bed and sleep at twelve or thereabouts. 
Those manor-house clocks are not to be depended on. and the 
hour hand, as I went to bed. pointed to the smallest hour, and 
struck it too. 

I must not forget, though, that in the interval of play my 



150 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

friend suggested a campaign against the snipes, which, frozen 
out of their swamps, had taken refuge in the warm springs and' 
ditches which intersect the wold, and. covered with treacherous-,, 
quaking bog earth and half dead vegetation, form rare feeding 
ground for both snipes and waders. 

" You recollect (he said) Old Fussy." A superannuated keeper 
this, who had been attached to the manor for fifty years or more, 
and who could find his way over that wild country in the darkest 
night with the sagacity of the sleuth hound. 

A queer old mortal, who had grown fat with age like a bishop's 
cob, and perhaps had some reason to attribute his enlargement to 
the good things he was welcome to at the manor buttery. But 
such a spluttering, busy talker, so full of noise and excitement, 
that, from youth to age, he was, out shooting, the greatest bore 
on earth ; though for wildfowl or snipe shooting indispensable, 
partly from his knowledge of locality, but especially for his 
acquaintance with the haunts and lurking places of every bird 
that visited those desolate solitudes. 

He was rather under the middle height, and of a most mercurial 
temperament, but so adroit at all pertaining to his vocation that, 
whether trapping for an otter, rearing pheasants, breaking a dog, 
or working up to wild fowl, he was sure to do it better than> 
anyone else, and to be the last man to talk of his exploits after- 
wards. 

But even by himself he talked, and in the punt they used to say 
that he put a stone in his mouth to stop his tongue, as an old 
historian tells us the geese used to do, lest they should gabble on 
their passage, and attract the eagles. 

Well, enough of Old Fussy, who in his rambles over the manor 
had seen a white snipe. Yes, he was sure of it ; he had been, 
fidgeting about the yard and stables from five o'clock until nine 
that morning, to give this information to the young master ; and 
he had delivered himself of this fact, hoping to be one of the party 
to circumvent this rare variety of the Scolopax. 

" I told him," said Fred, " it was a dunlin he had seen, but he 
says he isn't such a flat as not to know a snipe from a dunlin, of 
which, as he truly says, he has shot scores some winters ; and 
you can take your choice, my boy, skating or snipe shooting, with 
the chance of bagging Old Fussy 's albino." 

As I preferred the snipe shooting, which I had experience of ini 
seasons passed, we arranged for that, to the old man's great 
delight, when morning came ; and we took one general or useful 



THE WHITE SNIPE. 151 

dog, and one only, with Old Fussy's assurance that what was 
wanted he and the dog could do as well as any "other two people" 
in that moor. 

Fussy's spaniel was rather a leggy one ; he had only moderate 
ears, a pointer-like head, and not overmuch coat, and he was 
either uncommonly well broken or fond of an easy place at 
least so it seemed to me. Old Fussy took his gun too ; and a 
Norfolk keeper, fresh imported, and rather sulky at the preference 
given to the old man, brought up the rear, accompanied by his 
"man " a sort of untutored hawbuck of perhaps nineteen or there- 
abouts. 

The little rough skewbald and the cart were to make a wide 
detour, and join us with the luncheon at one, at a piece of furze 
we could see very plainly from the garden ; and, breakfast over, 
we started for our sport. 

The frost still held, and the day was clear, excepting an occa- 
sional slight fall of snow, which was some time before it reached 
the ground. It was capital ground for every kind of fowl 
rushes and grass up to your knees, and now and then bare patches 
of soft ground where the hard frosts had no effect upon the 
water the broad river bounding us on one side with a belt of 
yellow reeds and bullrushes, and making sudden swerves and 
bends : and behind this natural screen of vegetation, seven or 
eight feet high, it needed little generalship to get up to pochards, 
mallards, sheldrakes, or sandpipers, especially as the ground we 
beat with moderate caution made no noise, and our water boots 
were well " sumpled " by the wet and snow. Old Fussy's dog, 
Bob, he called him, walked close behind his master, sometimes 
standing still as we tried the fences, and took no notice as at the 
second or third trial we put up six or seven wild ducks, and three 
fell close by him. while a fourth, after a flight of a hundred yards 
or so, clapped its wings above its back, dropped into the stream, 
and began to swim to shore. 

We got three or four widgeon at intervals, and at about the 
broadest place put up a good skein of teal. As they flew by us 
and turned on their side, "keel up" as Old Fussy called it, we 
dropped five or six of them, and when we began to retrieve them 
I saw Bob was a workman. He got the mallard first, which had 
come to shore and hidden himself under a hassock of rushes. 
Ju.st as he stooped to lift him the bird rolled over into the stream, 
and dived, and Bob with him, coming to the surface with the cripple 
in his mouth. He roaded one of the teal nearly a quarter of a 



152 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

mile, never raising Iris head from the ground, and at last tracking 
his bird to a furze bush, where he stood him for a second or two 
like a pointer, dashed in, retrieved him, and came to Old Fussy 
at a gallop. 

In the water he was just as good as on land, working to his 
master's signals, and going away from him as straight as a colley 
on a 'Scotch hill rather a difficult thing to get a dog to do, as 
half of them, when they are in the water, are in a great hurry to 
get out of it. In the midst of this sport a rough head pushed its way 
through the reeds on the opposite bank, and, holding up a teal, 
told us in a rough voice that he had picked it up about fifty 
yards ahead ; so saying, he threw it into the water to Bob, whom 
he seemed to recognise as an old acquaintance. This was the 
water bailiff, who gave us the information that some of them 
"shore men" had been shooting all along the river further on, 
and had sheered off on his approach. 

We had, however, only time to try the moor, and had beaten 
half of it by the time we reached the cart and skewbald pony. 
There we found a twilled blanket stuck up as a screen from the 
wind, and a couple of furze faggots ready to be set in a blaze as 
we lunched ; and not a bad notion either, on such a day as 
that ! 

" Two hours," the old keeper said, " would do the rest of it." 
But for him, he was very silent, as he had made sure of finding 
the white snipe at a point near the river which we had beaten in 
vain. 

We had one pipe apiece, and then started afresh, but I noticed 
that we had missed about an acre of rushes to our right ; so at 
my suggestion we took it back, and killed three snipes and a 
" jack " as we retraced our steps, on ground we had walked just 
before. As we were entering the promising bit I have noticed as 
left untried, I had to step over a warm spring at the only place 
which was trustworthy, and where a stake was driven as a sort 
of guide, both to the eye in the distance, and the balance in 
crossing over a fir pole half buried in the ooze. Fussy had 
crossed first, and I had handed him my gun, when by some mis- 
chance I missed my balance and was thigh-deep in the muddy 
water. With the splash up rose the white snipe to my right, 
and wide of Fred, who was trying the spring with his back 
towards us. 

It was deeply mortifying ; for, though the light was scarcely 
deteriorated, enough of the brightness of the day was gone to 



THE WHITE SNIPE. 153 

make marking the bird a difficulty, as he soared in a large circle, 
and eventually pitched heaven knows where. There was nothing 
for it but to beat out the ground, and, if we failed, to try again ; 
so on we plodded, not in the best of humours, and with varied 
success. Sometimes we found three or four snipe together ; then 
we walked piece after piece, and jumped dyke after dyke, to be 
disappointed ; and we came to our last piece but one a quaking 
morass, where only the dog could go, and well he did it. Along 
the margin of the dyke went Bob, and beat it to us steadily, as 
though his master were behind him, and bent on putting every- 
thing to the guns. Two or three snipe got up and went over 
him the wrong way, and of course rose out of shot. Old Bob 
sat down each time and wagged his tail, watching them out of 
sight. 

Another coming right over my companion ! and he drops him 
and the next. Down charge, Bob ! and he sits in the wet mud 
as contented and as quiet as my Lord's hall porter in his beehive 
chair. 

" All right," and the dog is up again, puzzling at a large tuft 
of bog myrtle, out of which, after he has run round it three or 
four times, dubiously creeps an old hare. As she canters up to 
me, I stand still, and when she is within shot I drop her. The 
old dog looks up from his sitting posture as before, but at his 
master's signal goes on with his beat. He is at the edge of the 
pond now, and the shelly ice is cracking under his feet as he tries 
a piece of brown weed, half floating in the water. It gives way 
under him, and he goes in head and ears, but he tries it for 
all that, and up gets the white snipe, flying straight for me. In 
too great a hurry to secure the prize, I miss him right and left ; 
but Fred, though far away, takes a long deliberate pull at him, 
and I think hits him. Ah ! he flutters, and sinks slowly to the 
ground a couple of hundred yards away amongst the rushes. 
But Fussy quite deliberately tells us he has marked him to an 
inch, and, says he, "Me and Bob will get him." 

As I look for Bob I see him rubbing his head against his 
master, with my hare in his mouth, and in the twilight the}' are 
lost to me as they make for the point where the bird dropped. 
We light our pipes and wait but two or three minutes, watching 
the dull red sun sinking in the west, and listening to the sullen 
wind breaking across the sea. What's that ? ' Who-whoop ! " 
They've got him ! and here's the dog cart ; for, though the 
lights of the old Manor House are streaming across the river from 



154 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

the high ground before us, we are three miles from home. As 
we are putting on our coats man and dog come up. " How 
much for the dog, Fussy," I ask, with one foot on the step. 
" Ah, sir," says he, with a twinkle in his eye, "though he's ugly, 
master says handsome is as handsome does I musn't sell him 
not by no means 



SWANS AND EAGLES. 155- 



PAPER XIX. 

SWANS AND EAGLES. 

I DON'T profess to be a naturalist, and I nave been waiting from 
week to week, expecting and hoping that some such observer of 
nature as Mr. Tegetmeier would have something to say about 
swans and eagles, which were the subject of conversation, more 
or less, ever since the Royal Academy threw open their new 
rooms in May. 

It was generally understood that Sir Edwin made the study for 
his picture at Lord Dchester's famous Abbotsbury swannery, in 
Dorsetshire a " fleet " or " mere " of shallow water shut in by 
the famous Chesil Beach, which connects Portland with the 
mainland : a piece of water this fleet or mere, adapted by nature 
to support a large "herd" that is the correct old term of 
swans ; and at ebb or flow they can easily procure their food in 
that estuary, without diving like ducks for the fine grass on which 
they subsist from year to year, and having lived and grown fat 
possibly from the days of the Norman conquest, or ages beyond 
that epoch. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that this herd consists of the 
tame or mute swan, by far the most graceful of the group, the 
hooper or wild swan being rarely seen amongst them, and that 
only in the hardest weather ; whilst I believe the Bewick's swan, 
or Polish, whose young are white from the nest, and not dun- 
coloured like the tame ones' cygnets, has never been seen 
at all. 

In the old accounts of this large preserve, sacred to what 
someone has called the " monarch of the lake," there is mention 
made of a smaller swan than those called mute swans, called by 
the historian hopperx, and which he says " went out to feed, and 
came back in the evening;" but there are none now. and I have 
never seen more than half a dozen of them in captivity, and then 
they were restricted to the bounds of Charborough Park and 
ornamental water by the old plan of pinioning thorn in which 
condition they were, I believe, purchased from Castang. 



156 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

Once or twice it has been my good fortune to see the hooper 
a modern authority writes it " whooper " wild, and both at feed 
and in the air. Several have been shot in former days on an 
outside decoy pond which I once rented ; but during my occupa- 
tion of the decoys I was compelled to content myself with a sight 
of the group within the range of my "binocular," nor did I feel 
at all anxious to get the punt gun on them, or to destroy birds so 
graceful in the water and so profitless on land. Thirty years ago 
their cumbrous quills cost 3d. each, and were the ambition of 
many a scribe. Now they are used chiefly to mount sable 
brushes, and are going out of use. Tin mounts are more 
generally adopted for the brush, and gold or iron pens have 
superseded quills and the customary blunt penknife. So I did 
not try to stalk them ; but, as I moved cautiously round on my 
cob to get a better view, the sentinal of the group detected the 
splash of my retriever's foot in the half -frozen burn, and up went 
the lot, sailing away in an undulating line and serried rank 
but, for all that, not resting each bird his bill on the tail feathers 
of the other, as one or two of the old writers would 
pursuade us. 

So there went all my hopes of tasting the flesh which (I 
think) Willoughby describes as "like heifer beef" or the chance 
of my having a swan, skinned first, then roasted, and then the 
''pelt" '' at any rate the tail feathers" sewed on again, and 
then served at the domestic ''banquet." Nor do I believe with 
Hearne that it would have been necessary to shoot ten or twelve 
yards ahead of them, or that, with the advantage of the very stiff est 
nor'-wester, the best flyer of the lot could have made, as he con- 
jectures, one hundred miles an hour. That is great going, 
Master Heame ! Some time ago, as I went in the fast train to 
Newark, doing well, forty miles an hour I once or twice could 
measure our speed against the swallows, and we beat them with 
several pounds in hand ; and, when these swans were well up, 
and making for the sea, with the wind astern "on the beam," 
I believe, is the nautical term I had a rare opportunity of timing 
them a measured mile from a hill-top to a clump of fir-trees in 
the offing ; and if they did twenty miles an hour, it was all they 
did. and much more like eighteen. At this rate, I thought, as I 
shut up my glass, and went on to confer with my old decovman 
at this rate you will be a long time " making " Siberia, Russia, 
or the swamps of Norway, when you are tired of eating my decoy 
ducks' barley ; and I don't believe in your keeping my inner pond 



SWANS AND EAGLES. 157 

open in this hard frost by beating the water with your wings 
an opinion my vassal corroborates in a hoarse whisper behind the 
rood screen of our nor'-west pipe, where the teal are working : 
though the ducks, he says, went up at daylight, and never 
touched the barley ; for they, he believed, could smell the boat in 
which he had been breaking the ice all night with a heavy cross- 
axe and sledge, and the aid of a brown jar, which he didn't mean 
me to see. 

" I wish," he said (for his temper was ruffled by the subject). 
" I wish them white beggars was at home to be ridden down by 
horses and hunted by dogs, as my books says they are when they 
moults in August, up there among the ice and snow, where the 
blacks lives, and they eat fat dogs and turtles, and what not." 
For my old fenman was a reader you see, and had confounded the 
colour of the inhabitants of Iceland with South Africa, and con- 
fused their cuisine with that of the Society Islands and the 
various epicures who pay a guinea a quart, perhaps, for the 
West Indian "Chelonia Midas" inseparable from the aldermanic 
gown. 

Perhaps it was somewhat owing to that brown jar maybe his 
morning draught confused him ; for he was one of the few men 
of his class who kept a diary of his experience, and could tell 
you from his rough notes many a fact worth recording in the 
"transactions" of those learned societies which keep most of 
their wisdom to themselves, or publish their descriptions and in- 
vestigations in language "no fella can understand." Some of 
these experiences of his jarred with scientific theories, and were 
at variance with the accepted facts of profound philosophers. I 
was often surprised at the observations of this old decoyman, 
stored up for nearly three score of years for he was " seventy 
good," and had been a decoyman "ever since he could break a 
duck's neck." 

Swans, however, he had seen little of, and he had never heard 
of their being, still less had he seen them, attacked by any bird 
of prey. "They look well on the water," he went on at the 
time I came upon him behind the screen, speaking in a whisper, 
and peering with one eye through a hole in the reeds, through 
which he had worked a hollow mutton bone, which served as a 
rough telescope ; but give me birds that will take a pipe, and that you 
can catch and catch again. I never caught but one swan, and that 
was in an otter trap, and when I went up to him he zet at me like 
a dog. I got six shillings for him from a ' stuffer ;' but years ago 



158 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

they were only worth half a crown. He had been splashing and 
fluttering all night perhaps, and there was not a bird in the pond 
for a week afterwards, so it was a dear six shillings." He had 
(never seen the white-tailed eagle there, though now and then he 
told me the " fish-hawks " by which he meant the osprey* 
would hunt the fens and marshes and scare the fowl ; and one 
morning a bird soared over him that seemed ten times as big. and 
"went clean out to sea. "But," he observed, "the birds was 
working to the south pipe, and I expected a good ketch and got 
it, for I took home twenty-four couple " (or "coople," as he pro- 
nounced it), " teal and all. I was using a tame red kitten that 
-morning, with a rod pegged down and a running ring with four 
inch of chain to her neck, and they swum at her wonderful." Here 
our conversation ended, for he signalled me that three mallards 
and a lot of duck were within " speaking distance " at the wire 
pipe opposite, and he sallied off to wave them in, and of course 
succeeded. 

And this warns me to go back to swanneries, and especially 
that famous one of Abbotsbury, which has grown famous since 
last May. Until last week I had never seen one, although I had 
found out from books of the swans at Whittlesey Mere, where 
the father of Lord Burleigh was the bailiff, when Henry VIII. 
was king ; also of a swannery at Clarendon in Wilts, and another 
an that part of Dorsetshire known as the Isle of Purbeck. 

Then, too, I was pretty well up in "swan marks," " cigni- 
nota " Lord Coke called them that is, devices carved on the 
upper mandible, of which there were ninety-seven, being the 
hieroglyphics of as many proprietors of swans on the Lincoln 
rivers. Devices these, old as armorial bearings crescents, crosses, 
initials, annulets, rough ideas of crests or helmets, which made 
the birds private property, and not the Crown's. 

I had read of the London Corporation going "swan-hopping" 
or " swan-upping " that is, taking up the cygnets to be marked ; 
and I had heard that Oxford had " a game of swans " by Oseney 
Abbey and Godstow, the burial place of the Fair Eosamond. So 
I determined to go and see the largest swannery in Great Britain, 
possibly in the world, and, by the courtesy of the Earl of Ilchester, 
its owner, I accomplished it. 

For the purpose of seeing these in a compact body, May is the 
best month ; but I went in July, and there is plenty to be seen 
then, though the cygnets are strong and able to roam away by 
the sea-board, and seek their food possibly twenty miles from 



SWANS AND EAGLES. 159 

tome. With the glass I could see them ten miles off at least, in 
groups of ten or twenty, and, as far as that helped me, I could 
count them by the score. 

Abbotsbury, famous for its swannery and decoy combined, is a 
bleak and desolate tract of land hard by the sea, and closed in by 
lofty hills. A few trees in clumps, and an old line of elms, take 
off somewhat from the sterile appearance of the prospect ; and 
it is a relief to turn from the shingle terrace walk ten miles long 
and see a large covert to your left, called Uddin's Wood, and the 
old decoy replete with alders, stunted timber, and rank reeds, in 
the midst of which the old swans' nests of withered grass and 
rushes looked like magnified mince pies. At the entrance to the 
decoy close to the gates, in fact is a high pole recording the 
high tide of 1820, which swept over the Chesil bar, was 20ft. 
deep at the decoy gates, and earned barley ricks and such like 
trifles a mile inland. 

We passed this beacon post one of us, I can guarantee, with 
a sort of wonder as to the present state of the ocean behind that 
long streak of gravel, though the day was cloudless ; and the 
journey from Dorchester might have been equalled, scarce sur- 
passed, by the exploits of Dr. Livingstone. We were burnt, but 
the horses seemed baked as well as basted, and the thermometer 
was where the Irish girl found it nowhere ! We had passed the 
green avenues of the decoy, and the piles of reeds stacked with 
a view to future repairing of the screens, and at once came upon 
the open water, backed by the Chesil Beach, which shuts it in 
from Portland and the sea. A flat grassy terrace of solid ground 
suiTOunds the reed ground, and is pleasant walking ; and close to 
land the birds were sailing in water perhaps two feet deep. 
They were very tame and sociable, and some, mostly birds of last 
year, we could have touched as we passed by. 

I had time to note thus much when old Bartlett, the keeper, 
joined us in accordance with his instructions, and showed us the 
proper route. The "fleet,'' "mere.' or ' estuary," is about a 
mile and a half long, and has a tidal ebb and flow and a good 
thing too, for all the breeding places of water birds offend one 
of the sonses terribly. You can't help it, and swans are in this 
respect the worst of all. 

The water was by no means clean or clear, and such it could 
hardly be, when it formed the feeding ground of 850 sii'ans, counted 
in September, 1868. to which must be added 400 ci/giute marked 
during the year 1809. Anciently, and when the royalty was in the 



160 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

hands of the abbot, it is said that the herd numbered 7000 or 
8000 birds ; but of late the average number has been 800, and, 
notwithstanding the annual increase of, say 400 cygnets, there is 
little variation in the " tale." I asked old Bartlett, the keeper, 
to account for this, but it seemed beyond his powers, though he 
had been in the earl's service, as I understood him, thirty-five 
years, and had known more or less of the swans during the whole 
of that time. He suggested that they were shot when they 
roamed away, as they do for miles ; but, as they are pretty well 
known, are all marked in the outside web of the right foot, 
being thus private property though killed thirty miles away, and 
are rather cumbrous game to hide away or carry off, his sugges- 
tion did not satisfy me. 

Perhaps it is a sort of balance of nature, and as many survive 
as the grass at the bottom of their feeding ground will support ; 
but then, if the old abbots could rear 7000 or 8000, why not the 
present earls, who seldom, if ever, fatten a cygnet in the private 
pond, and rigidly protect them from all enemies ? It seems 
more probable that, in parties of two or three, they seek fresh 
feeding grounds and migrate, in spite of hand feeding, which 
they enjoy only a fortnight or three weeks annually, and which 
has been the average for many years. 

The birds appeared, indeed, in excellent condition, and do not 
readily feed on anything but their favourite weed. Bread and 
buns which the birds in Worcester College Gardens would not 
refuse, or the beasts of the air (I mean the bears) at the " Zoo " 
would have eaten, eveft on a Sunday evening the Earl of 
Ilchester's swans turned up their bills at, as Bartlett said they 
would, though I would net believe him. And I am strengthened 
in my opinion that the Abbotsbury swans do select fresh localities 
by the fact that strangers come to waters in my own neighbour- 
hood, and there remain ; and that in one or two instance there 
are swans no one ever sent for or purchased, but which the 
keepers say "came of themselves." You can't drive them away ; 
you can't catch them to examine their feet ; and you have little 
chance of doing so, except when they sail, as they often do, with 
one foot over their back, when the Echester "nick" might be 
recognised with a field glass, the most useful of all pocket com- 
panions to those who like to see birds or beasts, and closely 
observe them, in their fancied privacy. 

After we had seen all there was to be seen from the low land 
of the decoy, we crossed the water, perhaps five hundred yards 



SWANS AND EAGLES. 161 

wide, to the Chesil Beach, partly covered with the wild pea. 
Pisum maritimum (there's science for you!) which in 1555 
supported the people in Oxford and Aldborough in a famine, and 
was supposed to have been propagated by the wreck of a vessel 
loaded with peas, though this is no doubt a legend the tree 
mallow, Lavatera arborea, and the growth of which in this 
locality Eay has recorded. There were other plants which were 
new to me, and which as yet I have not found out ; but what 
pleased me more than these rare bits of vegetation was the 
group of sea birds terns with fish in their bills for their brood 
hidden in the pea haulm and seaweed, besides stints and dunlins 
which flew around, as either accustomed to that immunity 
from gunpowder which does credit to the noble house of Ilchester, 
or conscious of the protection afforded them by the Lords and 
Commons. 

'And have you ever " it was a "momentous question" 
" have you ever seen any eagles on this beach, or the swans 
attacked by any bird at all ?" This was the first question I 
asked him of the velveteen coat and conventional leather leggings, 
which always call up to remembrance the days of Lincoln College 
luncheon and deep-coloured rancid cheese ! 'Tis a moot question 
whether the leggings are cheese or the cheese leather! 

The keeper rubbed his chin seriously and said, "No, they 
haven't no enemies ; leastways none as hurts 'em." And as to 
eagles, he never heard of any, nor saw them anywhere, though 
he had seen " these here big hawks what they nails on barns," or 
words to that effect. I didn t take down his ipsissima verba, for 
I saw he eyed my very pencil-case suspiciously ; but these were 
about his sentiments, and here or hereabouts his experience began 
and ended. 

But then, looking through my note books. I find the following : 
'In the winter of 1803 numbers of wild swans assembled near 
Yarmouth in Norfolk ; seventeen were shot by one man in a 
week. They were also seen far inland, and many were killed 
near London. Near Mitcham, in Surrey, two out of a large 
flock were killed with a common fowling piece. During the 
sume winter the sea eagles i.e., the white-tailed or cinereous 
eagles were most abunihtnt, and several were shot at Yar- 
mouth." 

It may be argued that no one has ever seen a white-tailed 
eagle attack a swan. Well, it is acknowledged that the white- 
tailed oairle feeds on fish, but no one has ever seen one catch 



162 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

a fish, nor is there any record of the manner in which it seizes 
its prey, Yarrell says, " We have no authority for believing 
that it plunges." 

Then it has been said that the swan could make no fight 
against an eagle, or three eagles, which are depicted as at- 
tacking the swans in order, we will suppose, to prey upon the 
cygnets. 

However, Yarrell tells us that " Mr. Dunn once saw a pair of 
skua gulls chase and completely beat off a large eagle ; that they 
struck at him several times ; and that at each stroke he screamed 
loudly, but never offered to return to the assault." 

We have the authority of Temminck for believing that the 
cinereous eagle follows the flocks of geese which resort to the 
Arctic Regions ; and, therefore, why not swans or cygnets in 
Abbotsbury Fleet ? 

Now I have summed up the evidence, and I must leave the 
verdict. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MISSING. 163 



PAPER XX. 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF MISSING. 

I DON'T write imaginary days' shooting, like "the run of the 
season," in a three-volume novel ; they are insults to common 
sense, unless they are written by a very first-class M.P. in other 
words, master of the pen. 

Take what I say at its value. At any rate, I record facts, only 
putting one man's head upon another's shoulders, that no one may 
recognise Browne's portrait ; except this time, when, at the risk 
of offending him, here he is only you see he is now no more. 

He put an additional vowel at the end of his name, observe, to 
separate him from the throng of Browns, and his godfathers and 
godmothers did a trifle more for him, for they named him 
" Whyte-Browne," coupling the two names together, and spelling 
them both incorrectly, that in the words of his uncle, who hailed 
from Munster there might be no mistake about his name. 

There were two talents bestowed on Whyte-Browne, for which 
he was celebrated in his "corps ; " for Whyte Browne was, accord- 
ing to his own pronunciation, a " meejor." He could generally, 
not always, eat and drink more ivilh impunity than the youngest 
subaltern in his regiment. When I first knew him he girthed 
exactly 4ft. at his third button hole, counting from the bottom 
of his waistcoat. His whiskers were " a sable silvered," and his 
complexion might be described with equal truth as apoplectic or 
expensive. He was still capable of considerable exertion, but 
after his second bottle of claret his head gradually sank, and his 
breathing became stertorous. He was scarcely in the sere and 
yellow leaf, and, what with a spurious front tooth or two and a 
little " coopering," he was by gaslight almost a lady's man. 

He has been buried two years in the churchyard of Bally-some- 
thing, close to a famous snipe bog, where, according to common 
report, he " bagged " (this is something better than killing) 
where he bagged, I repeat, sixteen snipe out of eighteen, and the 
two he killed, but did not bring to hand, went off with their legs 
down. Aii'l therefore I shall not hurt his feelings, nor would ho 

M 2 



1G4 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

care if lie read these lines ; for, though jealous of his reputation 
as a shot, and very touchy on the subject of his name, he was 
placid and unruffled at any joke you raised at his expense, unless 
you supplemented it with his sobriquet of " Whyte-Browne.' 

I recollect that the first time I met him was at a house in Staf- 
fordshire, remarkable for a profusion of good things and the 
hospitality of all its occupants. 

You must do the thing well in that county to get a name for 
breakfasts and dinners. They live there, and when master and 
mistress are indigenous to the soil I never knew the entertainment 
flag or your entertainers look jaded. If there is a clock in the 
dining room, it stops that night, and I have known them turn its 
face to the wall before the last bell rang ; but a descendant of 
the famous potter (Wedgewood) adopted a system of his own. He 
had a " dinner pendulum " constructed, which beat so slow that 
it took the minute hand eighty-five minutes to perform its round ! 

A bleak, frosty Christmas time I was staying at one of these 
Staffordshire houses, and at dinner they talked of the old major, 
who was expected to turn up that night if he could catch the 
train at Crewe. We had not sat down more than five minutes 
when we heard the wheels upon the gravel, and in he came, 
having posted all the way. I had only time to hear, in the short 
interval preceding his arrival, that he scarcely ever "missed." 

Well, there are, so far as my experience goes, few such men 
about. I never saw one myself, except the worst of men, who 
always pick their shots, and only shoot when they are certain to 
cut the game to pieces. I don't know whether they are worse, 
though, than the multitude who take long, or I might better say 
impossible, shots at hares, and let them limp away just fast 
enough to baffle the retriever, who, when the gun is loaded and 
the quarry out of sight, begins the uphill game of footing them, 
until he is whistled back. 

For a man of his age, expected to be a leading character on the 
morrow, I never saw one so "omnivorous" I think this is the 
word as the major was that evening ! They didn't know him 
well, so the soup and fish came on again. Meanwhile, he ex- 
plained " missing the train and being obliged to post all the way ;" 
the rest of us crumbled our bread, and two choleric and desperate 
guests, who were always bickering chiefly, it seemed to me, be- 
cause their "manors joined" got up an argument which was 
moistened with a deal of sherry. 

At last we were all full sail again, for the major had made 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MlbblNU. 105 

up his leeway, and attracted my observation by his encomiums 
on every plat. 

It was not at all a difficult entertainment. There were no 
disguised dishes. It was before the a la Kusse period ; and part 
of the "repast" was the old-established plum pudding flaming 
with burnt brandy, and mince pies baked upon the model of the 
twopenny piece current in 1797, an inch and a half in diameter, 
or a trifle more. Perhaps these, which the major ate as an 
elephant might have tackled little straws, acted with the fatality 
that attended the camel with the historical broken back. Be 
that as it may, he had not done yet ; he was rash enough to 
encounter filberts and port after dinner, played most unsteadily 
at pool, whilst he puffed a very strong cigar, drank about a gill 
of strong black coffee, and, after being assured the whiskey 
was Irish, not Scotch, he " indulged" that was his expression 
in a couple of tumblers of punch, or toddy, or whatever else they 
call it. 

No wonder that next morning he was the last at breakfast, and 
that he "didn't feel quite well." Cold shivers down the back, 
you know, and no appetite whatever. 

"You haven't got such a thing," he said, turning to his host, 
"as a little essence of ginger in the house?" "Well then, I'll 
take a little in a cup of strong tea without milk or sugar ;" and 
after that " a dash" of brandy, as he called it and a strongish 
dash it was. 

If he must have fastened his own gaiters, I believe he would 
have given up at once ; but the valet did that for him, with a 
strength of finger and adroitness peculiar to that fraternity. 

As soon as he was in the fresh air he said he should be all 
right. The hot room last night and the fellows smoking had 
done it all ; but the first strip of the covert we drove dispelled 
his dream. "I aim slap at 'em," he said to me, confidentially, 
"but I can't touch a feather." What is the matter with the 
guns?" And so it was all day. The celebrated shot was below 
mediocrity, and, but for fear of offending him, I verily believe 
my host would have put him on a level with the octogenarians, of 
whom two of them were there I mean, he would have let him 
shoot the hens. 

Referring to my diary I came upon this day's shooting, and a 
slight sketch of "Whyte-Brown turned up. 

It set me thinking why do men miss, supposing that they have 
the use of their eyes and limbs. It ought to be easy enough to kill 



16G THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

winged or ground game, especially as it is not like tiger shooting. 
or a gorilla hunt where, in the first case, the animal eats the 
first-prize tiger hound (class 201, Birmingham), and then runs 
after you ; and in the second, he snatches the gun out of your 
hands, severs barrel and stock with one snap of his teeth, and, 
after striking his breast and rending his garments, beats the 
"stub twists" about his persecutor until the barrels are as bent 
and twisted as a gas pipe. 

How is it that so many men are talked of at the clubs as 
" fellows who can't shoot a rap, bless you" ? 

Well, a good many things, save the bird. Some of the best 
men miss, because they are watching their dog. All honour to 
them for so doing. Their attention is divided ; with them the 
end of shooting is a good dog. not " the pot." 

I have had my day's performance thoroughly upset by many 
things. I once saw a beater saved from death by his having put 
on six or seven waistcoats. If ever a man tried to get shot he 
did, but his time was not come. His narrow escape, however, 
tipset my nerves, although the charge which perforated two or 
three of his garments did not go from my gun. 

I have had the barrels of a very inferior gun level with my 
head at intervals of five minutes, knowing that it was at full cock, 
and that the right-hand lock was " queer." and foolishly imperilled 
my life during the time because I couldn't get out of the way 
without appearing rude to an utter stranger ; and my shooting 
has been worse than moderate for the remainder of the day. The 
sudden unexpected explosion of a barrel, a missfire, a bad 
cartridge any of these things will upset a nervous man ; and of 
course some constitutions and temperaments are more easily 
disturbed from their equilibrium than others. 

On the other hand, you can't shake the coolness and self- 
reliance of some " fellows." They will claim every bird, check it 
down in their patent sliding metallic register, run by you into 
the best places, and, if in the days of muzzle-loaders they missed, 
"swore " that there was "no shot in the gun." These are the 
fellows who run forward when they are told to keep with 
the beaters, and, whilst they pepper you, never get shot 
themselves. 

I know one of this fraternity who always wears a high white 
" chimney pot," which by contrast with his black beard and red 
face makes it nothing short of manslaughter to shoot him. I 
believe that I should have killed him once, as he had crept round 



THE PHILOSOPHY OP MISSING. 16 

a holly bush twenty yards before me because I had got comfort- 
able quarters ; but, as good luck would have it, the wind set from 
him to me, and just before I pulled I smelt a whiff of some odour 
which reminded me of a leaky gaspipe, and I recognised my 
honourable friend's cigar. 

You will often hear men say of themselves, or of another, that 
if they miss the first shot or two it " puts them out." I quite 
believe this, and I feel sure that in billiards, also, missing to score 
for half a dozen strokes at the commencement of the game will 
unnerve a man for the evening sometimes, let him be ever so 
vigorous and strong in a general way. 

Well, this shows us that we ought to be careful at the outset 
to get (speaking of covert shooting) a good place, and never to 
lead off with a random shot. " Flukes " in shooting are the ex- 
ception, not the rule. Steadiness and repressal of anxiety may be 
obtained by resolution. Hurry makes the finger snatch at the 
trigger and involuntarily pull before the gun is at the 
shoulder. 

Not many years ago a London gun maker a journeyman 
made a good living by teaching shooting in his little back parlour, 
his secret being to get the embryo sportsman cool and collected as 
he aimed at his tallow candle and blew it out. His pupils, I 
need not say, were snap shots. These men might possibly do 
respectably with trapped pigeons, starlings, or at the public- 
house sparrow club ; but doubtless the whirr of a cock pheasant's 
wing as he got up at their feet, or the chuckle of a woodcock's 
wing, even without the grunt, or croak, or neighing noise they 
talk of now, would disturb the aim which levelled at the lighted 
candle proved unerring. And, even if the nerves of these candle 
shots were equal to the flush of any bird, supposing he went right 
or left, ten to one if they hit him unless they knocked him down 
on the rise, to the jeopardy of hats and heads inside them. 
Which leads me of course to pace. Aye, here's the rub ! See 
how birds differ. A partridge well up, going with the wind 
almost a pale, flying almost on his side, as a crack swimmer goes 
through the water, or a cutter yacht heels over when racing for 
the cup, though I believe the latter ought to sail upright a bird 
going at this rate, or a rocketing pheasant, or a snipe in a light 
breeze, or a mallard all these birds require to be shot at with 
calculation as well as aim, and when you get the level you must 
clap the aim in front of them. The " rocketer " I verily think is 
the fastest bird of all. I should shoot six inches before a snipe, 



168 THE IDSTONE PAPEB8. 

but I would risk six feet before the pheasant coming over my head, 
and I would expect him to throw up his tail and drop almost at 
my feet, dead before he reached the ground. 

If your gun fits you (and old Purdey very justly remarked, you 
should be measured for a gun just as much as for a coat), if 
your coat is easy under the arms, and the collar does not rise to 
your ears every time you raise your gun, you ought to kill twice 
out of three times ; but it is a good shot that does it. What with 
your foot slipping now and then, your trying to kill that wood- 
cock which gets up under your foot whilst you have a bramble 
across your face, "bad cartridges" and "lost birds," two out of 
three is a good average all the year round. 

Nor have I enumerated one-tenth of the disturbances which 
" save enough for breeders " and prevent the extirpation of game 
upon the manor. You lose a number of chances from thinking 
of other things. That bill of Doctor Jones, which you estimated 
at fifteen ten, is exactly double what you calculated. It was 
considerately forwarded to you this morning, after a middling 
night's rest. Your lawyer persists in not forwarding his bill, 
which has been running for eight years. You have a leak in 
your house, or, the dry rot, or what builders call a "sinking" or 
a "settlement ;" some one has shot your "almond tumbler :" you 
are out of coals ; and scarlatina has broken out at your boy's 
school, whence all are to be sent home immediately. Any of 
these things clogging the brain will disturb my aim, I know ; 
and, most strange of all, sometimes good shooting leaves you in 
the middle of your work. 

There is something as incomprehensible in this as in the manner 
in which I have seen hounds baffled if in a run a fox is headed. 
They have, perhaps, been running him breast high before ; they 
lose him, and the scent dies too. They hit him off for five or six 
yards, then where is he ? He seems to have sunk into the earth. 

Now and then there is some reason for it. One September 
morning four of us were shooting well. We pulled up for luncheon, 
and one of the party produced a jar of excellent " home-brewed " 
not that "thin pea soup" which tastes of everything except 
malt and hops, but the real thing. We were a very temperate 
lot, but after very little of it we could do no more. To use the 
keeper's words, we "warn't a bit of use." At other times twice 
the quantity, or three times, would not have affected me ; for I 
am sure I only drank half a pint this time. We gave it up for 
full two hours, when we went on as before. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MISSING. 169 

Generally, depend on it, missing means indigestion. Your 
friend prepares you for the day's work with a dinner of Chablis, 
oysters, turbot and oyster sauce (caper sauce if he is a man of 
taste), patties, croquets, cutlets a la this, that, and the other. 
Next comes the joint and turkey, game, rich gravy toast, fried 
crumbs and sauces, creams, jellies, whips, trifles, and syllabubs, 
rich puddings, iced puddings, and what not. to be succeeded by 
Stilton cheese and the pie of Strasburg ; then dried cherries, 
tough figs, grapes ad lib., a sponge cake, crystallised fruit, Spanish 
plums and roasted chesnuts, to say nothing of the hock, champagne 
(dry), sherry, claret (chateau something, of course), and that little 
glass of liqueur, which is supposed to be plenary absolution to the 
drinker for all his weakness and profane trifling with his liver and 
digestion. 

Who wonders that next morning, like Whyte-Browne, I get up 
with my '-coat staring,'' that I shoot too quickly with my first 
barrel, that my aim is oblique, and that Helvellyn, the solicitor, 
who has been asked to shoot because he does the election work, 
and never saw a battue till this day, spreads damaging reports of 
my qualifications as a shot, and whispers to his engrossing clerk, 
who carries his cartridges in the professional blue bag behind his 
master, '' that Hidstone is no great shakes, he'll take his affidavit." 

Although I have, as the little attorney would say. " engrossed 
the attention ' of my readers long enough, I will give them a 
carte of a dinner, and some of the results, to exemplify what a 
liberal host will do to entertain his guests, and how they per- 
formed next day. 

I went to look over the kennels of a country magistrate some 
time last year, and to share in two days' shooting. I could not 
spare time to dine the second day. nor could I reach the '-Castle" 
in time to dine the first. The first day I had nothing to complain 
of, as my repast was simple, and I hope the second was moderate ; 
but here's the carte, which I preserve as a curiosity, and some day 
I will have it framed : 

Soups. Turtle, Jardinit s re, clear soup. Sherry and Sauterne. 

Fun. Turbot, lobster sauce. Wines, Chateau Tquem, Hochhcimer, 
sherry. 

Removes. Haunch of venison, braised turkey, truffled, boned, and 
stuffed with tongue. Wines, St. Julien, La Rose. 

Entree*. Vol-au-vent with oysters, partridges a la Pt'-rigord, sweet- 
breads a la Monarque, cutlets a la Jardiniere. Champagne. Cliquot and 
Mo ; t, sparkling hock. Punch n la Remain (carried round by a six-foot 
slave). 



170 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

Second Course. Roast pheasants, woodcocks. Wines, Burgundy, Cham- 
bertin, Clos Vougeot. 

Removes. Pate de foie gras, iced padding. 

Entremets. Chantilly cake, Charlotte Russe, pineapple jelly, meringue 
a la Parisienne. 

Dessert. Grapes, pineapples, apples (Golden Pippin), petites pommes 
d'Assis, pears, oranges, four crystallised fruits, two cakes, cream ice (au 
cafe), water ice (lemon). 

Wines. Sherry ; Lafitte, '58 ; Margaux, '58 ; Latour, '58 ; Port, '20. 

I partook of a selection of these viands, and that but 
sparingly. Next day, however, I wasn't up to the mark. Here 
is my score : 

Pheasants, 001000011001011110111. 
Woodcocks, 1. 

Hares, 01100010001100101110. 
Rabbits, none. 



SHOOTING IN ALDERNEY. 171 



PAPER XXI. 

SHOOTING IN ALDERNEY. 

A GOOD knowledge of French was not so common twenty-five or 
thirty years ago as it is now, and to my acquaintance with old 
General Levasseur, who commanded at Dunkirk, and the pains he 
took with me, I owed my appointment at Alderney as soon 
as I took my degree at Oxford. All the Southampton steamers 
undertook to land their Guernsey passengers at Alderney, 
" weather permitting," but the weather seldom did permit, and if 
the captain of the steamer were ever so accommodating, the old 
Alderney curmudgeon who monopolised the attendance and the 
boats would not come out to meet the vessel when her flag 
signalled for a boat, unless the wind and tide allowed him io 
do this all alone, and, as he called it, to "sweep the lot." I 
stepped on board the steamer overnight, assured I should break- 
fast at Alderney next day, but I woke in sight of the " Casket 
Lights," and was soon the victim of at least a hundred Guernsey 
porters. 

It was early in October, I remember, and towards the middle of 
the day, when I heard that a cutter and four hands would start 
for Alderney in an hour, and my portmanteau, gun-case, and 1 
official "portfolio " it was a tin box, by the bye, and not a folio 
were forwarded to the pier-head by the very fattest porter I 
ever saw, appropriately ticketed "No 1." The cutter was, how- 
ever, no decked vessel, but a long, narrow four-oared boat, with 
a mast and a lug sail, hi case the wind should serve, manned by 
four hybrids (in blue butcher's frocks) between slaughtermen and 
labourers, but good sailors for all that, as I know by experience 
now, and soon found out then. We shipped two landsmen before 
we pushed out of the quiet harbour, and waited one of the most 
precious hours I ever lost for a tailor who had a hankering for 
sailor life, and who as brave a fellow as ever was afloat now 
commands the Alderney steamer that plies from Guernsey. 

It was a sudden change for all of us when we left the quiet 
harbour, shut out rom the restless ocean by high walls, and 



172 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

encountered the broken waves ; but the wind was on our quarter, 
and we took advantage of the lug sail ; the master spirit on board 
observing in his patois as he hauled in the sheet, " we should 
soon take the creases out of that sail, lie knew." It blew a little 
harder, and the sea got up, and off the Eussell Rock it ran liter- 
ally mountains high. Both sky and water became of an angry 
leaden colour, and occasionally a " bull's eye " (a small rainbow, 
or rather a short, broad prismatic streak) appeared as we rose on 
the tossing seas, and swung down into the dark depths again ; the 
starboard side of the boat showing free of water to her very keel. 
But the light craft was a good seaboat, and we held on well, and 
were calm all of us, but one craven-hearted fellow in the bows, 
who, if he could not pluck up his spirits, drank them, and pointed 
with his white finger to the large waves " coming," and could 
with difficulty be persuaded by brave Pierre Gauvain I give his 
name truly to sit still, a matter of some moment, as we our- 
selves were the only ballast. All at once the Bed Linnet (that 
was the boat's name) trembled from stem to stern, and the sea 
flew from her bows as she forged through a current running 
against us twenty knots an hour. '' The Swinge tide," said 
Pierre, " running between Alderney and the island of Burhou, an 
hour too late, and the tide has turned." The gale, our enemy 
before, but now our best friend, hurries us through " the 
Swinge," but we must "gybe," and " down sail ;" we lose our 
way, and a sea sweeps us from stem to stern. We bale her with 
our hats, and though she trembles and lies a log, we hoist the 
sail again and run straight into the old rough harbour of Alder- 
ney, crowded with anxious witnesses of our perils. 

Well cared for and well housed in the quaint old town of St. 
Anne's, and none the worse, and occupied with my work, I had it 
well in hand, and was ready as the winter set in for the little 
sport there was. The physician of the place had a pack of clever 
beagles, and knew well how to handle them ; and for knowledge 
of the science of shooting I never saw his superior. His physic 
I never tasted, nor did he ; I cared little for his beagles, but I 
learnt all he could teach me of the snipe-shooting, and waited 
impatiently for the arrival of the woodcock. I could do all 
required of me after the lamp was lighted for my employers, and 
more too, and many a pleasant day the doctor and I had together. 
First we (in company) visited his patients, because my French 
tongue was useful, and occasionally I shook up the bottles in the 
sick rooms, and gave them a scientific look as I held them up to 



SHOOTING IN ALDEBNEY. 173 

the light. Then we loosed his old setter Jarlett, and started for 
le sport. Sometimes we breakfasted before daybreak, and got to 
the fields covered with "vraick" (seaweed manure) before the 
sporting community could beat them ; and in hard weather we 
generally had good sport. The snipe were scarcely ever to be 
found except where the seaweed was spread, but in such situa- 
tions we could flush them in abundance, and they lay well. We 
possessed the only setter in the island for a spaniel is the 
favourite of the islander, and some of them had good ones. I 
remember there was an indefatigable old sportsman, who had 
fought at Waterloo, possessed of two large liver dogs I never saw 
excelled either for snipe or woodcock, and several of the farmers 
had leggy, island-bred ones of nearly equal quality to these. 
But when ''the cocks " began to drop in on the heather}* edges 
of the cliffs, we chained up the setter and worked a pair of 
Clumbers only. 

I was dressing one snowy morning late on in December, with 
the comfortable feeling that my work there was drawing to a 
close, and that I might be home again for an English Christmas, 
when I thought I saw a woodcock fly slowly across the stunted 
orchard. I looked on from my bedroom, but the flight was too 
slow and owl-like, to my mind. I should perhaps have thought 
no more of it, when another followed, and another. The last I 
plainly saw, and he flew so near my window I could observe his 
eye far back in head, as it always is. and, more than that, a leaf 
impaled upon his bill, as he had been boring among dead leaves, 
perhaps, in the beech woods of Brittany. My first acquaintance 
(the doctor) was the man for me to consult, and his experience of 
twenty winters told him it was to be a brilliant day. As it 
always happens, one of our brace of Clumbers was footsore, but 
the other was in rare condition, and we sallied forth. We went 
almost the circuit of the island (about nine miles), and found our 
expectations realised ; the cocks had " pitched in " that night. 
and in the early morning, and though some were wearied from 
their flight, and lean, most of them were in fine condition. They 
got up much more slowly than a bird which has rested and fed in 
one covert perhaps for weeks, and .in very few cases we flushed 
birds which made that " chuckle " with their wings as they rose, 
which an English sportsman knows so well : but the sport was 
continuous and well sustained. The old Clumber knew his 
work, and did it. He bustled up to the edge of precipices, and 
once or twice flushed birds resting on the turfless ledges ; but, 



174 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

with only one exception, all flew inland, and, but for my inex- 
perience, we should have retrieved every bird we killed. That 
one I did not give time to turn, and he fell hundreds of feet down 
a. perpendicular cliff into the blue sea beneath, striking the water 
like a cricket-ball. We got fifteen or sixteen couple of woodcocks 
that day, and left off when the light failed ; and, considering we 
were not out until half-past eleven, and left off soon after four, it 
was not a bad day's work for Alderney. Next day every man 
-who had a gun turned out, but there were few woodcocks to be 
found (about five couple was the outside of the bag made by all 
the islanders), for the birds merely stopped to feed, and took 
flight for Guernsey or the mother country. It was the best day 
we either of us (the doctor or myself) had known, though there 
is a rumour that one man (a good shot, too) killed twenty-five 
couple on a similar occasion in fewer hours. 

Now and then a woodcock, very rarely a quail, a few rabbits, 
and, at the outside, four couple of snipes, after a long march, 
make a good day for Alderney ; and so must pass the winter, 
excepting that we occasionally extemporised a dance. It is a 
.primitive island, or rather it was, for now they have a railroad. I 
believe, and certainly a steamer ; but in my time, when we had a 
dance, a girl sung quadrilles and waltzes, and we had but one 
means of communication with the world a little cutter a real 
-cutter, whose captain was the best of seamen. When I left, I 
grieved to leave two men I never met again the doctor (" Old 
Colocynth " he called himself), and the captain of the Experiment. 
The doctor, as he lived, died well. The captain, on a return 
-voyage from Guernsey, was caught in a gale of wind and ran 
upon a rock I think Eock Ortac ; at any rate within sight of 
.home, just in the dusk of evening, and the shallow space was 
crowded by the vessel's crew, who that bitter night burnt their 
clothing, as a signal to the shore to try to save them ; but no 
boat could live. The next tide swept them off, and in the 
morning the rock showed bare as ever. 

As spring came on my work had ended, and I was not sorry to 
see the steamer " lay to " for my boat, in obedience to the red 
-and blue flag hoisted by the doctor as a signal. I have had many 
a brilliant day's shooting since that time, with matchless setters 
-on the Scottish moors, or among the partridges in clover tops off 
English farms ; I have (I confess it with shame) assisted at 
battues, where we have netted the whole covert, and counted our 
vdead by hundreds, whilst wagons were waiting for the slain ; but 



SHOOTING IN ALDEENEY. 175 

(it may be because I am not quite so young as when our gracious 
Prince was born) I do not remember ever enjoying shooting more 
than when there was not much game but a good deal of walking 
in the island there, and a pleasant night after it, with two 
doctors, the princes of good fellows, one of whom survives. 



176 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XXII. 
"SHIRKERS." 

EVERY father of sons who have outgrown the preparatory school, 
as it is called, has certain misgivings as to what he will do with 
them, unless they show unmistakable signs of coming out as 
" stars " in the Eton, Harrow, or Winchester firmament. Medio- 
crity is failure nowadays, when the three professions are over- 
crowded, and what is ordinarily known as "business is a sealed 
book to those who can command neither capital nor interest. 

For the eldest son, even if he be a loafer, there may be the 
refuge of the old house, the rookery, and the large or small 
estate. The Civil Service and the Engineers or Artillery provide 
a future for the constellations or the workers ; but what shall 
become of the drones ; Like the French condamne. they must 
live though, apart from paternal prejudice, one could almost 
say with the French judge, "I do not see the necessity." 

And by " drones " or "shirkers " I mean the following class : 
The easy-going, lethargic, well-behaved boys, of whom every 
school furnishes a considerable proportion : fellows who get their 
verses "done" for them, accept punishment as more desirable 
than work, and only exercise their wits to avoid anything like 
continued mental exertion. If you "tackle" them, they take 
refuge in stuttering when called up, or plead sick headache or any 
excuse that may come into their weak heads, or perhaps that 
stale one of "not having been able to find the word in the 
dictionary." 

As a class they are given to smoking ; they have very delicate 
appetites, a love for tough pastry and effervescing drinks ; now 
and then play the flute ; are enwrapt in the pernicious novels of 
French literature ; perchance make feeble efforts at backing 
horses ; are very particular as to the cut and fashion of their 
coats and other garments ; possess exquisite taste and discernment 
in satin and other gorgeous ties ; display an aptitude for getting 
into debt ; and while away the tedium of life, like a Spaniard, 
basking in the sun. 



"SHIBKEBS." 177 

I am quite willing to believe that in many cases these hopes of 
a " long family " are suffering to some extent from constitutional 
infirmity ; but then, again. I see so much shrewdness in getting 
out of work, such adroitness in avoiding anything like exertion, 
that I am most unwillingly compelled to suspect the same acumen, 
fitly bestowed, might enable these impotents to earn their bread, 
and possibly to pay for their scent, pomatum, dentifrice, rings, 
chains, pins, and tobacco. 

Let us see. Some years ago it was my good fortune to meet at 
a country house a captain in the army, who was one of our shoot- 
ing party for a few days, and who, besides having possessed one 
of the finest works of art in the Exhibition of 1851. and invented 
a system of cooking for the army in ovens applicable after dinner 
as pontoons for which he received, I believe, very considerable 
acknowledgment from the Government had founded, and pre- 
sided over with great ability, an establishment in the Xew-road 
for the reformation and employment of the city "waifs and strays." 
This Home was admirably conducted, and the organisation of the 
various departments was simply perfect. There were lathes, 
filing and carpenters' benches, a French-polishing room, and all 
the appliances of a general workshop. Now, would it not be 
worth while to start such a department for the Shirkers the 
well-conducted, gentlemanly, respectable, but withal selfish, in- 
considerate sons of gentlemen, whose sphere of action at the 
present moment is an arm chair or the softest couch in the 
drawing room ; whose most violent exercise consists in the use of 
a camp stool and a fishing rod ; whose knowledge of chemistry is 
confined to the price of lemonade ; and who. given a map of the 
world, could not put their bath sponge over it so as to be quite 
sure of covering Mexico, or contradict such an assertion as that 
the Crimea was in the West Indies. 

Many hundreds have been spent upon the sons of families who, 
with no fault in the masters, bring home periodical testimonials 
of idiotcy great, lumbering, 'cute, good-natured noodles, who 
sprawl about the premises during consecutive vacations, and yawn, 
until one cannot help feeling it would be justifiable homicide to 
knock them on the head. 

Put them out in the world, with the complimentary douceur of 
six or seven or more hundreds, and you get in a week harrowing 
descriptions of the dullness of the place, the narrowness of the 
bed, the rough seams in the sheets, and the coarse fibre of the 
meat. Perchance you are upset in your day's work, a few weeks 



178 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

later, by complaints from the opposition benches, and the master 
discovers the true value of his disciple, suggesting that he " will 
try him a little longer, but he fears " you don't read the rest ! 

You talk the matter over with your most intimate friends ; for 
you can't shut your eyes to the truth that a pair of patent leather 
boots, a gorgeous scarf, the last thing in trousers, even an 
evening costume of blue coat with silk facings and gold buttons, 
is almost as unendurable as a tame cat ; whilst the habit of these 
"lethargies," running up stairs whistling, playing with saloon 
pistols, opening your study door and leaving it ajar, with 
occasional bars long drawn out upon the flute, are anything but 
soothing to your mind when you are in the habit of making brain 
work pay long drafts to bakers, butchers, and the various " co- 
operative " tradesmen. 

The bad lots of families have always had an inkling for agri- 
culture, looking upon it as an idle, peaceful, and pleasant life, 
involving a gun, a pony, harvest ale or long draughts of cider, 
and every opportunity for self-indulgence. It removes the pupil 
from the society of people who know more than he, and the farm 
labourer, over whom he hopes to hector calls him " sir ;" so that he 
is a "Triton amongst minnows." It is not until he is out of sight 
that the bucolic, thrusting his tongue into his cheek, tells his 
brother ploughman " that vool 'ull never make a farmer, and that 
he shall take no notice of 'un." I have watched narrowly the 
issue of such a course of education, but I have universally found 
that boys who left their books to be farmers have turned out 
dismal failures. 

The next step is Queensland, Australia, or some distant field 
for labour, enterprise, and capital the " capital " being some few 
hundreds of pounds. The voyage out is all rapture and smoking, 
varied by cards and ship billiards ; but the first letter home 
probably describes the funds as sinking, whilst the intelligence 
that the money is gone will probably be conveyed personally by 
the emigrant. 

You can kill the fatted calf or storm at him, precisely as you 
feel inclined ; or perhaps you will accept as a propitiatory sacrifice 
to your feelings a pair of grass parrakeets and a king parrot 
which you could purchase in far better plumage of Mr. Hawkins 
at a less price by 500 guineas than these noisy and debilitated 
specimens. I have known such cases as an outfit and capital 
being acknowledged by the gift of an opossum skin, a Birmingham 
nugget (brass gilt), or the feathers of an old cock emu. 



"8HIBKEBS." 179 

But you can hardly blame yourself, for your young farmer was 
simply an incumbrance amongst the colonists ; and so, why won't 
some enterprising philanthropist start a model workshop for 
gentlemen's sons, presided over by expert, well-conducted work- 
men of the class and manners, let me say, that teach the 
amateurs at my friend Holtzapffel's in Charing Cross ? 

Let the Shirker learn turnery, the use of the file, the farrier's 
forge work, joining, cabinet work, upholstery, basket making 
any useful manual trade by which he is sure to earn his bread 
and, as he has not taken advantage of his opportunities, but 
has given himself up to self-indulgence, give him six months to 
make himself master of the details of his new profession, and 
after that let his food in the establishment consist of, or be pro- 
portionate to what he earns. If he comes to the conclusion 
during this probation that the society and work of a professional 
man are to be preferred to that of mechanics with whom I 
would let him constantly associate at meals, and to whom I would 
make him as respectful as to a college tutor give him another 
chance of rejoining his compeers of gentle blood and leaving this 
asylum for the indolent. 

What I have endeavoured to place before your readers will be 
found capitally described in a story to be found in that admirable 
old boy's book, " Sandford and Merton," under the title of "The 
Gentleman and the Basketmaker." In all seriousness, and from 
having met with many cases of the sort I describe, I do think 
that such a system is most desirable ; for, with a trade, no parent 
need fear his son was famishing in a distant colony, except from 
sheer inexcusable idleness. Gentlemen's sons might certainly 
learn enough to keep their heads above water in, say, two years. 



N 2 



180 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPEE XXIH. 

OUR BLACK HEATH. 

A PASSION for speculation often vents itself in the attempt to 
reclaim or cultivate common land ; and but for the opposition of 
the owner, I have little doubt an agricultural capitalist would 
have tried his hand upon our heath. We do not own all of it ; 
I am afraid to say how many miles square it is, but the part we 
shoot over is not less than five or six miles square. In one part 
you may see a line of dark green fir trees stretching right away ; 
and to the left of that (the way I propose to lead you) an estate 
divides us from our snipe ground ; but with that we will have 
nothing to do just now, but leave it until the snipes come in, 
driven from the swamps and reeds by the hard frosts we look for 
anxiously just now, to rest our hounds and horses. The estate, 
bounded on one side by the line of firs, is simply a continuation 
of the waste ; and bare and sterile as it looks, and really is, more 
than one company has been ruined by it, although the projectors, 
of course, were anything but losers. Old records show that most 
of the land hereabouts was waste when William Eufus hunted in 
this neighbourhood, and had only been brought into cultivation 
partially when King John built his hunting-lodge close to us. 
Since his day we know cultivation has been brought as far as 
possible in our direction, and stops at the old farm and the 
brook and bridge, where the heath begins, and whence the 
traveller on the old hilly highway will probably see no human 
being for five good miles. 

As you enter on the heath at this end, you may observe a belt 
of fir trees ; then, perhaps, an inclosed piece of land in a ruinous 
and weedy state. To the right is a long, low, thatched cottage, 
and an orchard of stunted apple trees. Here the decoy-man 
lives, with a view from his door of the " outside decoy -pond," 
all open to heath and sky, but tenanted by numbers of mallards 
and teal at all seasons of the year, and in hard weather by swans 
(hoopers) or wild geese in large numbers. But when you pass 



OUfi BLACK HEATH. 181 

through the decoy-man's garden you have done with cultivation. 
In the summer, looking towards the south, you see a charming 
garden of red and purple heather, mixed with the yellow furze, 
but it is all brown now, except where there are large sheets of 
mud and "ooze," and there the reeds and long grass hillocks are 
a pale muddy yellow. Along this waste a narrow causeway 
(probably in old times the track of the strings of pack-horses) 
leads between two dykes sometimes through heathland dry and 
shingly, sometimes between two bogs, which undulate as you 
walk along and beneath that matted grass or fibre there on 
your right or left are fathoms of slime and clay. Many acres of 
this flat have been drained without success, and mapped out into 
squares ; but they are breast high in grass and reed, and as the 
winter comes on they harbour duck and wildfowl of all kinds, 
whilst in some of them snipe and starlings drop in at the dusk 
of evening literally in clouds. 

A mile or so of this unvaried walking (occasionally crossing a 
plank bridge or rude brick arch), and the covert thickens. The 
bog myrtle and the alder, and a thick maze of underwood with 
some low oaks, form the outer screen of the decoy itself. A low 
plank leads us over the outside ditch and on to the soft green 
turf, free from any stick to crack under the decoy-man's boot. 
Here we can gently open the reed screen with one finger and see 
the colony of ducks and teal all confident of safety, for no gun 
has been shot off within a mile of that decoy for centuries past. 
All around there are hassocks of grass and tangled reeds and 
briars, where there is good lying for fox or otter in the dry, and 
it is a favourite place with foxes after a rough wet night, when 
(as we know) they will not go to ground. And well our master 
and his huntsman know it ; for after wet and wind, if there 
is a chance of drawing the decoy, they do it, and when they 
have gone away the old heath seems ten times as desolate as 
before. 

Well, leaving the decoy, the ground is broken with hills and 
valleys, and the soil is dryer. As we rise a line of hills beyond, 
we find the basins beneath dry also, and the gorse growing well 
and thick. Now and then we come upon a fine old holm or 
holly, and perhaps a clump of them. Sometimes an old barrow, 
one or more together, marks the scene of a battle in old times ; 
and antiquarians have delved and turned up cinerary urns, 
bronze celts, glass beads, or torques and armlets. Here the soil 
is deeper, and partially reclaimed ; and soon we come to peat 



182 THE IDSTONE PAPEK8. 

beds, where, in the season (say about October), the borders of 
the turf walls are covered with the dark blue gentian, and in the 
more moist localities with some yellow flower I cannot put a 
name to. Beyond these, there are fox coverts of gorse laid out 
in squares, on some table land (where the air is fresh and bracing 
even in the heat of summer, and whence you can discern the 
ships and fishing-boats), you can look down on many acres of 
green pasture, and have a bird's-eye view of a deep but narrow 
river, up which come the salmon from the sea ; then some old 
Eoman ramparts, and a quaint old town, and beyond its "walls" 
more heath and desolation. 

Here and there, where he could get permission, a cottager has 
built a mud cottage on the skirts of this common land, and 
broken up the surface and cultivated it sometimes, as I said 
before, by permission, sometimes taking silence on the landlord's 
part for his consent. This wild land extends on all sides for 
many miles ; and the scattered spots of cultivated land, with 
their little homesteads, are just enough in places to feed the 
partridges on the stubble in the autumn, and support which is 
more to the purpose the little heath-farmer and his few rough 
cattle and rougher pony. This wild tract of land, which has 
been called for ages the " Black Heath " (probably from its 
sombre colour under the influence of winter), supplies the 
labouring poor with turf (not peat) for their winter fire, and 
affords the sportsman with the best (because the most varied) 
shooting that I know. It is a rare field for the naturalist too, 
abounding in summer with rare birds (such as the Dartford 
warbler), and with hawks, which hunt it like so many spaniels ; 
and day and night it is haunted by innumerable gaily coloured 
flies and moths and creeping things lizards and vipers in 
profusion, and the very finest snakes I ever saw. 

When March comes round, it is a rare place for the dog- 
breaker, as it abounds in game ; and at that time black game will 
lie under the heather, and frequently in the old wheel-ruts, until 
you kick them up before the dog. And besides, the breaker 
knows, when there is no scent in the young wheat, or no laying for 
the paired birds, he shall have a burning scent in the deep ling 
and long coarse grass ; and this the whole hunt know also, 
although many of them dislike to ride it, fearing its hidden 
dangers, which are not trivial, unless the horse understands the 
country and goes well on its hind legs ; and his master, too, must 
be a good judge whether the land will carry him or swallow him 



OUR BLACK HEATH. 183 

as he picks his way to catch the hounds amongst the shaking 
<juagmires. 

Just when the young pointers or setters are finishing their 
spring breaking, late in July or early in August having laid by 
-since May we find plenty of early broods of partridges, and a 
good sprinkling of hares and rabbits ; and as soon as they are 
steady again to the back and point, and can be trusted to drop to 
the temptation of " fur," it is time to blood them to the young 
blackcock, or, as they term them here, " heath poults," sup- 
posing they are not going to the north for grouse. Early in 
September, if the day is hot and dry, we know by experience we 
shall get twenty or thirty brace of birds on this breezy moor, 
and that it abounds even in the dips of the hills or barrens, with 
deep cool pools and springs, which are so refreshing to our dogs after 
their galloping in the deep ling under a hot sun. So we place two or 
three good markers on the crests of these heights, and can mark 
the coveys down sometimes into the osier beds, at other times 
in the squares of gorse and fox coverts of bog myrtle. In these 
situations they get up well, and the dogs are rewarded for their 
staunchness. Often I have seen three good ones (for the third 
dog makes sense of it, as my old breaker says) find and stand 
and back, on the crest of these highlands, all of them showing 
clear against the sky, as we steadily walked up to the point ; and 
it is a pretty sight to see the black shaggy-coated retriever, close 
to his master, prick his ears and creep cautiously, with his eyes 
intent upon the foremost dog that holds the point, and to observe 
the various attitudes of the backing dogs, all "stiff as biscuits," 
ready to drop directly the single bird or whole covey whirls into 
the air, as though they came from beneath the ground. Then 
the perfection of breaking shows itself : when without a word, 
or uplifted hand even, all three setters drop, and are hidden in 
the covert ; when not one of the retrievers moves an inch, and 
they all drop too, except perhaps the cleverest of them all, who 
eits upon his haunches and watches a bird hard hit with an inten 
earnest gaze, prepared to follow it when he has seen it tower 
eight or nine hundred yards away, and bring it unrumpled, at 
full gallop, to his master, who has gone on, certain of the dog's 
finding the bird, and afterwards finding him. Then conies the 
loading, and the taking the retrievers up to where their masters' 
birds dropped. But generally only one retriever is allowed 
to work, or some jealous dog may take one wing, and another 
dog the other. 



184 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

Farther on in the season, when the winter has begun to set in' 
(let us say after the first white frost), the heath shooting is 
charming, for you do not know what may get up next. You 
may find yourself in the midst of a second brood of partridges, 
simple and easy of access as early September birds. Then it 
may be a snipe, and before you have time to load, an old mallard 
or a widgeon gets up all in a fluster from the reed or sedge. 
Perhaps one of the setters is reading an old blackcock, or as 
you walk by the holly trees, especially if there is a spring at the 
root of it, you flush the first woodcock of the season, and in all' 
probability his comrade. I have known on some occasions (for I 
have shot this heath thirteen years) five or six woodcocks killed 
in a November morning, and the golden plover to come over our 
heads fifty or sixty in a flight, and three or four guns get a 
blaze ''into the brown of them." When once the ducks have 
come over well, you don't know how to load your gun (I mean 
the size of shot to use) ; and I have also found, by twenty years' 
experience at least, that No. G is the best for this " all sorts 
shooting," for hares, pheasants, partridge, snipe, duck, woodcock, 
plover, curlew, or anything but geese, which don't come very 
many times in a winter near enough for three drachms and 
an eighth of powder and an ounce and a quarter of shot. 

The heath affords all kinds of sport very early in the autumn, 
or rather at the close of summer, and good sport it is. Just 
before they reap the corn, the young ducks (perhaps fifty or sixty 
at a time) fly inland from the sea to feed upon it. They always 
take the same direction, and appear just as the dusk of evening 
sets in. Exactly as the sun sinks below the horizon they come 
with rapid flight, over the same fir trees or the same crest of hill 
on the moor, in a line for the farm and the brook that runs by it, 
forming the borough boundary of the old town and of the 
heath, as well as the " cordon " of cultivation. In the cool of a- 
summer's evening I place a gun or two in favourite spots, about a 
quarter of a mile from the farmer's house ; and with a good' 
heavy 10-gauge double gun, carrying two ounces of shot, slung 
in a leather shoulder-strap, I canter along the old causeway 
until we pass the decoy, and turn sharply to the right. My 
shooting pony knows the firm ground as well as I do, for he 
is not only forest-bred (of which forest this sterile swamp is 
a continuation), but he has been here with the panniers for 
four seasons, carrying luncheon out and the game home. A 
quarter of a mile on I turn him loose, for if he strays my 



OUE BLACK HEATH. 185 

black dog will catch his bridle and bring him, and has done so 
scores of times. I creep to the crest of the hill, and lie down 
under a furze bush, and here I can see the ducks long before they 
come against the light. I get a double shot perhaps I have 
time to load and get two more (I have got half a dozen). I 
then let my dog go on, and pick them up and bring them. 
If I have many, I tie their heads together, and ride back 
with the game across the pony's withers. I pick up my com- 
panions on the way, and their ducks too. and we light our pipes 
and get home, either to whist or billiards, by half-past eight or 
nine and so the old Black Heath affords us rough sport all the 
year through. 



186 THE ID8TONE PAPEBS. 



PAPEE XXIV. 
TRAPS AND CALLS. 

To kill vermin is to breed game ; at any rate, if you don't do 
the first you cannot do the last. It seems a very simple fact to 
record, but, like the old school axiom of a verb agreeing with its 
nominative case, it needs continually to be repeated. All keepers 
know it, but they don't act up to their convictions I mean the 
idlers and sots. 

To trap and wire, to be able to detect the presence of vermin, 
and then to secure them, ought to be drilled into every boy 
immediately he leaves the plough to serve his apprenticeship and 
aspire to a velveteen coat and tawny gaiters. Without a taste 
for the keeper's life, and a sharp eye and nimble fingers, the lad 
is not worth his salt ; and very frequently the 'cute fellow, 
exactly suited for a trapper and wirer, is too expert in mischief 
and meddling to be available. 

The keeper who kills most vermin makes the least noise 
about it. He is not continually shooting about the manor, and 
yet he keeps it down. I need hardly say he does this with traps, 
and unless he can trap well he is not worth his wages. 

It is said that a bad workman always finds fault with his 
tools ; I have known a first class one grumble at his. A thorough 
vermin killer will have good traps ; they are easily obtained, and 
not much more expensive than bad ones. "Dorset traps" have 
been celebrated for something like one hundred and thirty years, for 
their lightness, their durability, the equal elasticity of the spring 
I mean its being as firm at the top when the trap is sprung as 
when it is set and for the flatness of the trap when open 
rendering it adapted for shallow or stony ground, and requiring 
very little earth to cover spring and jaws. The admirable temper 
of the steel is one of the secrets of the trade ; in fact, it is the 
chief one. The old original trap maker will warrant every trap 
he sends out, and he can show you some still good as new after 
twenty years' service. 

The secret of tempering was bought by the present maker's 



TBAP8 A.ND CALLS. 18 / 

great-grandfather of a travelling tinker, and the "gin" thus 
made, rapidly became a favourite. I am not sure that the pattern 
itself was not furnished by this itinerant tinman ; but I do know 
that the same 'cute hand instructed his pupil in the art of 
tempering a " mill bill" a sort of cutting hammer for roughing 
up the surface of mill-stones and, as I am told (not by the 
maker, but by the millers), there are no mill bills like these ; 
consequently, like the Dorset traps, they have found their way 
into every county of England. Our artist, who does all the 
tempering himself, can only throw off a certain amount of work 
with one pair of hands, and the supply is limited ; nor can he 
prepare the springs or bills to his satisfaction under certain 
conditions of the atmosphere. 

Having said thus much of the Dorset trap, I will go on to 
describe it more particularly. With a chain and swivel 12in. 
long it weighs lib. lloz. I put what is commonly sold as a 
Dorset trap hi the other scale, and I find it weighs 6oz. more. 
We will say that a man going his rounds carries three dozen 
traps, his paddle, and a small hand-sieve for covering his trigger 
plates. He has 131b. less for his back than if he had the 
forgeries in his basket ; for the pseudo-Dorset traps are not made 
in this county. 

The genuine article which I recommend, but which, to speak 
more correctly, commends itself, is exactly 12in. long ; the jaws 
are 4in. from hinge to hinge, and when closed they are 2^in. 
high. At the same time the extreme height of the spring is 
2^in., and lin. less at its narrowest part. There are eleven teeth 
in each jaw, and the trigger plate is about 2in. by 2^in. The 
jaws (Hid trigger plate can be covered icith lin. of earth, and no 
part of the spring exceeds 1-^in. in depth when set. 

In the worst trapping ground it is comparatively easy to make 
a channel with the paddle, in which the spring can lie ; but it is 
not so easy to frame a bed of l^in. deep for a square of 4in. 
when the trapping extends over a considerable acreage, and has 
to be finished in a given time. 

The heavier trap requires l^in. of earth to cover it at the 
jaws, and frequently much more, whilst 2in. of earth will barely 
cover the spring. The jaws are 5^in. wide, by 4^in. in length. 
When open, the trigger plate is 2|in. by 3in. square. The spring 
when at rest is 2in. at its highest and 2in. at its lowest part. 
The springs of both these traps are as nearly as possible GOlb. ; 
but. whilst in the Dorsetshire trap I get this power by a depres- 



THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

sion of lin., in the inferior article I have to go l^in. or nearly 
2in., rendering the setting of a Dorset-made one far superior and 
much more easy. 

The genuine trap costs lOd. more than the best counterfeit with 
which I have compared it, or, as I might better explain myself, 
the best substitute for that which I have found most adapted for 
the destruction of vermin. 

Rabbits should not be trapped, but snared. The bunglers who 
are not well versed in wiring will tell you otherwise ; but I can 
give you good reasons for my assertion. A stoat or weasel, a rat 
or hedgehog, cannot be caught without being killed nine times 
out of ten ; but not one rabbit out of fifty or a hundred is killed 
in the trap. 

It will maim or destroy pheasants if forgotten or left uncovered, 
and, what is far worse, imperils cubs and foxes, which are 
generally so mutilated by the grasp of the jaws and their 
struggles to escape, as to make it an act of charity to destroy 
them. 

It is true that the hutch-trap and the deadfall will exterminate 
numbers of rats, but for stoats you want a portable engine of 
destruction, and there is no better means than the old-fashioned 
gin. Setting it for rabbits does not require much art, although 
practice gives an instinctive perception of the right place for the 
purpose. To destroy vermin you must know their habits. You 
are pretty safe as you use a trap for these pestilent fellows, for 
you can do most with them in a tunnel made roughly of four 
boards about three feet long. It ought to be a little wider than 
a trap, say four and a half inches, and not less than a foot high, 
or the weasel may pop over instead of through it. This channel 
may go along the top of a bank, or along the bottom of a covert 
gate in fact, wherever tracks have been observed and it will 
answer well without any bait, provided there radiate from each 
end of the tunnel which contains the two traps two dwarf hedges of 
furze or any rough material to lead them in. 

I have seen these contrivances answer to a miracle upon 
a neighbouring manor, and there is no occasion whatever for 
bait or lure. The little miscreant, as he comes along the bank, 
suddenly finds himself confined to one channel. He has a great 
fancy for the underground means of transit ; he bolts in, off his 
guard, and is caught, whilst game or foxes pass by unmolested. 

Wires are hardly to be described as traps, but in the form of 
''springes" they are the earliest mode of capture. As I have 



TRAPS AND CALLS. 189 

said before, the keeper trusts to them, or ought to trust to them, 
for the capture of almost all the rabbits he requires. Instead of 
having half a hundredweight at his shoulders, he can carry from 
sixty to a hundred wires in his hand, and the whole number 
will not exceed a pound. A pound of wire, at 4s. a pound, will 
make two hundred wires, and the string will not average a 
shilling per hundred. On wet days or by moonlight he can set 
from sixty to a hundred with ease, especially if he has a boy to 
carry and hand them to him, and they can be prepared for 
setting and afterwards taken about without disturbing their 
shape and proportions. True, unless a man knows how to make 
and set them, he has a hopeless task before him, and it would 
take a lifetime to arrive at the expertness which can be learnt of 
any experienced hand. 

The small wire known as "annealed brass wire'' is the best for 
the purpose, and four strands, or even three if the material is 
good, will be sufficient. They may be twisted with two pegs, 
which form the eyes or slip-knots ; or the strands, being placed 
round a nail over a door sill, may be connected to a weight which 
is whirled round. In either case they are very rapidly con- 
structed. A thick double string connects the wire with the peg 
at a distance of twelve or fourteen inches, attached by what is 
known as " the Tom Fool's knot " to a peg nine inches long. 
The " pricker," a hazel peg with a notch cut to hold the wire, is 
about the same length. 

To prepare these wires for setting, the keeper in the first place 
puts the peg under his foot, and strains the wire out straight and 
stiff before he proceeds to make the fatal noose. It is customary 
with many keepers to make this perfectly round, and six or seven 
inches in diameter ; but this is a great mistake. The noose 
should be pear-shaped, about nine inches in its extreme length, 
and four and a half at its widest diameter. The loop should be 
close to the cleft stick which holds the wire, and it should stand 
above the pricker not less than eight inches, whilst the lower 
wire should be three and a quarter inches from the ground. 
If the wires are set in coverts they should be half an inch 
lower, and the belly of the wire should be depressed a little 
more. 

The snares should be put in the jumps of the runs, and not 
near a hedge or covert ; all the better if they are 200 yards 
away. The first rabbit caught will create a disturbance, and the 
whole of them will race in helter-skelter. This is the best time 



190 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

for snaring them, and the faster they go the better, as they do 
not notice what is before them, but, dropping their ears, will 
take the wire at the top of their speed. I have said that a good 
deal of nicety is required in preparing the wires. The principal 
art is to touch up the swell of the noose to a proper shape. 
Until the eye has acquired this form and proportion, a cardboard 
cut to the proper pattern may be useful. 

In my neighbourhood we have a lad who is one of the best 
" wirers " I ever encountered in my travels ; an under-grown, 
crook-kneed, shambling, snub-nosed varlet, whose countenance is 
only redeemed from idiotcy by the shrewd expression of his small 
sunk eyes. 

I have known this fellow set a line of wires, and before he got 
to the end of his rank there would be several entangled in the 
first he had put down. He would run across the field and fill 
three or four more, and having carried these home, he would go 
back with his lantern and take out perhaps two score, repeating 
his visit again before light, and at daybreak removing all his 
wires and the remainder of his prey. 

But then he does nothing else, and I don't think he could. Like 
a good many trappers, he dislikes a dog, and says that with traps 
and wires they are only in the way and so they are. 

If the wire is drawn up when it is looked at in the morning, a 
rabbit has been through it. If it has been beaten down, he has 
been over it. This last is a rare occurrence. I have watched 
hares and rabbits in covert, and I have never seen them go over a 
bramble if there was room to go under ; this I attribute as the 
reason for their falling easy victims to the snare. 

The best time for setting will be just before dusk, but any 
time will do. A little wind should be setting to the wood, and 
it will be well the first night to pitch at every other run ; the 
second night changing to those omitted the first time. There 
is no better way of sweeping up rabbits. In the autumn or 
summer evenings an active man can look over his ground, and 
take them out at nine o'clock when there is a moon, and he will 
be able to shift and set his wires again. " Calls " instruments 
for inveigling or attracting birds or beasts of chase have not 
been used to any great extent by English sportsmen, although our 
Continental neighbours have adopted them more or less for a 
considerable time. The gamekeeper has been accustomed to 
squeal through his tobacco-pipe, and thus call out to their 
destruction young rabbits which lacked worldly experience : and 



TBAPS AND CALLS. 191 

occasionally I have seen corncrakes decoyed by means of the 
time-honoured flat blade-bone and notched stick. The Lincoln- 
shire decoy-men have used their trained tame ducks in former 
years to lead their wild congeners up the tunnels ; and some few 
have trained a yellow dog to do the same, and the ducks follow 
him to my mind thinking him to be a fox. 

I have known a decoy-man's daughter (who was quite as shrewd 
as her father) allure the ducks up the pipe or into its entrance by 
running a big dog ferret along the grass edge to a bit of rabbit 
which she held at the narrow end. 

How much or how little they may be attracted by the " call." 
as yet I am not prepared to say ; but I am just now trying to 
ascertain, whilst they make their morning and evening flights 
from the sea to the standing barley, what effect it has upon 
them. 

The birdcatcher uses his call to attract the flocks which pass 
over his nets ; and I think that Colonel Thornton, somewhere 
about 1794, at his sale of gerfalcons, Icelanders, gos-hawks, 
flight falcons, tiercels (called tercels), and eyess hawks, sold some 
owls which were staked to decoy birds. Certainly tethered owls 
were used at one time for this purpose. 

Bits of looking-glass, arranged in a pyramid and revolved with 
a string like a child's toy windmill, have for years been used to 
attract larks, and may be seen exposed for sale in many of the 
London shops. 

Call birds are still in use on the Continent, and I observed, to 
my regret, some time since, that at Capri a person possessed 100 
"blinded" quails, which were used for decoying the migrating 
flights. 

Some possess to perfection the power of imitating bird or 
beast ; but it is a talent rare as ventriloquism. I have known 
bird catchers, who despised " call birds," contented to have an 
old hen for a " brace " bird, and able to call without any in- 
strument or device. Others have been able by practice to " do " 
any bird with a bit of metal between their lips, and have thus 
" worked " their nets independently of live birds. 

In a communication which I made to The Field some time 
ago I mentioned keepers who were gifted with these powers ; and 
since that time I have been informed on undoubted testimony 
that a father and son, in Hampshire, will put up a rough hut in 
the fields, and there " call " and shoot thirty or more wood- 
pigeons in a day. 



192 THE IDSTONE PAPEES. 

The power of attracting birds or animals has been observed by 
the French to some purpose, and, through the courtesy of 
Mr. Davis, of 72, Piccadilly, I have been enabled to test the 
efficacy of several French calls, which he has forwarded to me at 
my request. They are very neatly made, not easily damaged or 
worn out ; indeed, most of them are quite indestructible, and, 
above all, they require no art to use them. Some I am unable 
to test such as the quail call, for I have hardly ever seen quail 
hereabouts, and then only in September ; but my former ac- 
quaintance with the bird enables me to pronounce it a very 
perfect imitation, and not only preferable to the call bird, but 
humane, whilst the blinding of call birds whether quail or chaf- 
finch, should entail the loss of both eyes upon the operator. 

I am sure the plover call will answer. I decidedly attracted 
one of these birds upon the heath, but whether she had young 
ones in the long grass near me I cannot say ; I think not, and 
if not, the merit belongs to the call alone. 

With a very neat and convenient "lark call," as I read the 
label, I have brought a weasel from his hole, and, what is more 
to the purpose, he paid the penalty of his curiosity. I am quite 
sure that this would answer for young rabbits, and bring them 
into the open as I lay perdu under the edge. I have ascertained 
that it will do this on a windy night, but I desire to test it on a 
quiet one. 

The owl call is an unmistakable success ; and I have sum- 
moned my hoary friend, as he swept noiselessly across my 
paddock, until I was so near that I could almost touch him with 
my hand. 

Then I have the partridge call, male and female, both marvel- 
lously like nature ; a duck call ; and a very fair call for hares. 
Besides this, I have a woodpigeon whistle, which is better than 
the real thing, and which I need not try now, for I have used it 
years ago in Sussex, where a keeper first showed me one which 
was made at Tunbridge Wells. 

If these calls answer no other purpose, they would form good 
signals for keepers and watchers of game. Having determined 
upon a code of signals, the head keeper might almost talk to his 
subordinates, or they to him, by means of the owl call at night, 
or the woodpigeon as morning broke. 

In covert beating I could give my keeper intimation of my 
whereabouts without scaring every old hare, or apprising each old 
cock pheasant that I was about to pay them my annual visit ; 



TRAPS AND CALLS. 193 

and though I could not in the thick of it put the hare call to my 
lips, for fear of some young hands letting fly at me through the 
jungle, I might be able to give some intimation of my presence 
without that halloo which I have seen so fatal more than once to 
sport. It is as well to be prepared for some rebuff on these 
occasions, and to take it easily if some one demurs at the imita- 
tion and sees nothing in it like those wet blankets at a feast 
who first require to have the witticism shouted through an 
ear trumpet, and then, shaking their heads, declare they " see 
nothing in it, nothing whatever ; you've got the story wrong 
somehow." 

Such a rebuff befel the former lessee of a northern theatre, in 
the days of Van Amburgh. He had engaged the lion tamer to 
perform, and being very fond of effect, he suggested to that 
celebrity that it would be a wonderful "effect" if the lions could 
be made to roar as the curtain drew up. The lessee's name was 
Piper. Van Amburgh acquiesced, but he did not relish the idea of 
provoking the brutes just before stepping into the den, although he 
did not mind giving them the whip when he was amongst them. 
" Well," said the lessee, " have you any objection to my roaring ?'' 
"None whatever," replied the star. Accordingly the manager 
stood at the wings, and when the curtain drew up he roared, 
as per programme. It would have passed off admirably, had 
not some wag in the gallery recognised the human voice, observed 
the performer with his trumpet retiring behind the scenes, and 
greeted him with "Bravo, Piper!" which convulsed the house. 



194 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XXV. 

NORTHWARD. 

I HAVE frequently been asked for information on the fol- 
lowing subjects: 1. What is the best means of conveying 
dogs to Scotland and other places, as the trains terrify them ? 
2. What is the best mode of packing grouse to keep the birds, 
and prevent pilfering ? 

I have constantly sent dogs very long distances which is, of 
course, far more hazardous than taking them and of the scores 
that I have transmitted by railroad only two have suffered from 
the journey when they were sent in baskets or boxes, and but one 
retriever was so injured (being sent with chain and collar only) as 
to die a few days after reaching its destination (Liverpool). 

No dog ought to be without water in hot weather for more 
than six hours under any circumstances, although he can do 
without food for twenty-four hours without any inconvenience ; 
and, unless he is to be exhibited, he should be fed at such inter- 
vals, and always at night. 

I think a dog's comfort is studied best if he is earned either in 
a dog basket or a dog box. Let either of these cases be large 
enough, and you effectually prevent your dogs being stifled in one 
of those black holes which I believe terminated the career of the 
bulldog Romanic, and which have stifled many a good brace of 
dogs on their way to Scotland. You secure your setters a place 
in the guard's van, or a truck ; at any rate, they are certain of 
air, and probably in transitu they will provoke the attention of 
some good-hearted railway official, who will give them a pan of 
water. 

Whether your dogs travel in box or basket, there ought to be 
some easy plan for furnishing it. I have both baskets and boxes, 
which I will describe. 

I have wicker cases of various sizes, and provided they are 
strongly made, and the dog has no inclination to gnaw his way 
out, they answer very well. They are cheaper than travelling 
boxes, and cooler also. They should be, to use the terms of the 



NORTHWARD. 195 

trade, " randed " up, and not "slewed" up ; that is, the withes 
should be put in singly (the lateral withes), and not three or four 
together, as in wine hampers. For one dog this basket ought to 
be three feet six inches long, twenty inches high, and two feet 
wide. The opening is best made at the end, and there should be 
a hole at one corner with a tin or wooden trough, by means of 
which contrivance water is easily furnished. I have baskets, 
with a partition, for two dogs, and then the doors are at 
opposite ends. The single baskets, made stout enough, cost from 
twelve shillings to a guinea each, but boxes cost a little more. 
They are to be had of deal or elm, the latter wood the best, and 
the door is an iron grating. I have no double boxes they are 
too cumbrous ; and except that they are. when properly made and 
banded with small hoop iron, more enduring than wicker-work, 
they are for the transport of dogs in every way inferior to the 
basket. 

There is no doubt that dogs (and their masters) will do well to 
travel or start at night : for pointers, and especially setters, suffer 
more from the heat than anything else : and, supposing that there 
are one or two empty carriages, it is possible to take one or two 
of your especial favourites with you, by the judicious application 
of your finger to your waistcoat pocket, when the vigilant super- 
intendents are in the arms of Morpheus. 

Arrived at the end of railways, it is always best to take care 
that the boxes or baskets go on. It is very common for the 
coachmen and drivers to plead that they may be left for the 
return journey, that the dogs will best follow for the few miles of 
posting, and that it is " impossible" to carry those large packages 
" anyhow." 

It is a lamentable fact that Scotch accommodation is generally 
best upon paper, and that the lodge, the stables, the keeper's 
house, and especially the kennels, are frequently the result of 
imagination on the part of the landlord, wholly or in part. 

I have met with excellent Scotch keepers many a time ; but I 
have also come in contact with men who could not be brought to 
think any dog deserved better lodging than a pigsty, or choicer 
food than carrion ; and if they had the care of Hamlet the best 
pointer, I think, in all England they would tie him up with a 
halter, to hang himself if he liked. Of keepers, about one in five 
may be trusted to take charge of setters at home, and about one 
in five hundred to work them. But you mitigate all this evil 
much if you see that dogs have proper lodgings, plenty of water, 

o 2 



196 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

and that their chains are secured in such a way that suicide is 
not possible. 

Let your dogs travel in baskets all the way to their destination. 
Arrived at their journey's end. each basket (and the double 
baskets also, if made according to my directions) will answer for 
dog kennels until they are wanted for the return home, if the 
following advice is complied with : They should be raised with 
stones or a couple of faggot sticks from the ground, and a trench 
should be cut to carry off the rainfall. The sides may be pro- 
tected with heather or turf, and a heap of the same material will 
make a very effectual roof. 

It is true that some dogs are much affected by a railway 
journey. I once bought a setter of Lord Shrewsbury's breed, 
which did not recover his railway panic for more than a week ; 
but sympathy and a little patience on the master's part will 
generally put all this to rights, and I have not found the nervous- 
ness permanent or hard to remove, which it almost always is when 
produced by an injudicious introduction to the gun. 

Unless dogs are sent to the north by rail, they must go up by 
sea, and they are exposed in steam vessels to greater risks, and 
for a longer time, whilst the master or the servant in charge 
remains in such a prostrate condition that they receive no care or 
attention from their natural protectors. 

I come now to the second question proposed : " What is the best 
mode of packing grouse, to keep the birds and prevent pilfering ?" 

Let me say it is of chief importance to get a moor which is 
accessible by some public conveyance. Packing grouse and send- 
ing it away are the great labours and annoyances of Scotch 
shooting, and these are aggravated beyond endurance when you 
have to send a horse and man daily eight or nine miles. A Scotch- 
man is a very independent fellow, and won't come to you just 
when you want him ; so that it is indispensable, under certain 
circumstances, to have a conveyance of your own set apart for 
bringing what you want, and taking away the game you send to 
your friends. 

If grouse are well packed and sent away in good time, a London 
dealer can give (as I am informed) ten shillings a brace the first ten 
days, and after that five shillings a brace. But it is very unfair to 
him to send game not worth the carriage (or mauled like the 
pheasants in French game shops, which have been fought over 
by four men and a dog), because he agreed to take good and bad 
together. 



NOBTHWABD. 197 

Much depends upon the way game is handled and carried until 
it is cold, upon the spot it falls on being a grey boulder or a bed 
of heather, and upon the feathers being wetted and not dried, 
as they ought to be when the guns stop for rest and refresh- 
ment in other words, whisky and the cold spring water off the 
hill side. 

If the keeper and gillies have the proper cleft stick, or, 
better still, the light iron " game -carrier," so that the birds 
hang by the neck and are exposed to the mountain breezes, and 
if when they are transferred from pannier or the saddle bags 
they are carefully arranged and neatly packed, grouse are almost 
certain to carry well ; but to put one bird cut all to pieces 
amongst them is certainly to taint the rest. 

It is not generally advisable to send grouse to your friends 
directly you reach your moor, for at that time everyone is re- 
ceiving presents of game from the north ; whilst you are able at 
your leisure to select such specimens as best bear carriage, to 
choose a cool day for packing them, and to put aside all " broken 
game," or such as "ought to be cooked," for the stock pot or 
digester. 

I have seen systems of all kinds adopted for packing grouse. 
I have known the Russian material used I mean oats or barley 
but I have learnt that the system is not infallible ; and I consider 
heather the worst material why I cannot tell. Hops are very 
commonly used for the purpose, but I think they are best when 
connected with malted barley by an experienced brewer. 

I don't think anything answers so well as Scotch fir tops the 
common pine, which you can find anywhere and everywhere in 
Scotland. Over and over again I have known birds thus packed 
and separated to travel in first-rate condition from Sutherland to 
St. Leonards, and I have heard of no failures. 

It is best to take to Scotland, or to get when there, an eighteen- 
inch hand saw, an inch augur, a few bradawls, and a claw hammer. 
There are not many places where you are far from a sawmill in 
Caledonia, and you can get plenty of fir board. It is not a very 
hard job for the gillies or keeper, or all combined, to knock up a 
dozen or two of boxes on a wet day, and they can keep you well 
supplied, especially if you give them an occasional ounce of 
tobacco and a stoup of whisky. 

If you add to the nails, when you pack the pame for delivery, 
a couple of strips of narrow hoop iron, you baffle all attempts at 
" lifting " the game in trunsitu. 



198 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

The usual prices of boxes, which are often supplied by the 
keeper as his perquisite, is sixpence per brace ; and this toll 
becomes an unbearable burthen, the more annoying because, like 
a tailor's coat box (price 5s.), each grouse case is useless as a 
brown paper wrapper when it has served its purpose, for you 
cannot ask your friends, like the game dealers, to send back these 
boxes, even if they would return carriage free, which is not now 
the case. 

It is best to have the boxes large enough ; much game is spoilt 
by their being too small. Two holes should be bored with the 
augur at each end, and one at each side, for the circulation of 
air ; the turpentine in the pine wood and branches, and the 
interstices formed by the use of such coarse material as the fir 
boughs, will do all the rest. 



A BRIGHT OCTOBER. 199 



PAPER XXVI. 

A BRIGHT OCTOBER. 

IT matters not how delightful the home may be, you will find the 
educated classes rejoice in a change even for the worse. My lord 
duke leaves his grand old palatial residence for a dingy square, 
and I, in obedience to the dictates of the powers that be, make 
my annual visit and do my accustomed penance in lodgings by 
the sea, at so much a week and extras for what is facetiously 
called "' waiting " (on my part, not the overworked maid servant's), 
and '2s. Gel. per week for a small partnership in the kitchen fire. 
At the end of six weeks it is time to think of home again ; we 
are wearied of the German bands, the peripatetic- organ, the 
dyspeptic monkey, the adulterated milk, the sloppy boats, and the 
dogs-eared novels, which from first to last possessed no novelty, 
and we turn homewards to ' sweet Auburn," with Goldsmith's 
" lengthening chain." 

Hunting or shooting, however, there arc charms in a fresh 
country. Here I know every inch of the manor. I have an 
intimate acquaintance with the flight of every covey, and their 
line for miles. In " the bog " that deep and difficult ten acres 
of grass hassocks and rank verdure, interspersed with pools and 
sloughs of mud and ooze, whence Billy Butler declared he had 
seen issue every kind of British game I have a pretty fair know- 
ledge of all the stepping places, and have seldom gone far astray 
as I groped my way at night for the hut where I waited for day- 
light and the wildfowl ; and I know few places which possess 
more attractions, or fora stranger, more perplexities. Then there 
are the long wide reaches of rape and swedes, the seed clover, or, 
better still, the santfoin (the best partridge covert left us in Old 
England), and the fern now (in this month sacred to the mys- 
teries of Bass, Allsopp, and their brethren) changing from green 
to chrome, and so to burnt sienna and " Payne's grey." 

It needs, one would think, some strong inducement to pack up 
and leave this glorious range of varied shooting, the wild black 
heath and rushes, even for a few days, especially when, any day 



200 THE 1D8TONE PAPERS. 

now, the first woodcock may flip through the dark hollies and 
pitch again, wearied with his long flight whence shall we say ? 
Well, perhaps from Iceland when, having found him, my old 
Clumber quickens in his pace, and is animated by the hope that 
half a score or more may have dropped in amongst the scrub, to 
take wing at dusk for Exmoor or some of the deep woods of 
Devon. But the love of change is strong upon me, when I get a 
hearty invitation for the Wiltshire open country, and I arrange 
my little matters of business speedily, and determine to take the 
train at once. 

I deeply study Bradshaw as I finish breakfast ; for don't I know 
that, unless I make what painters call a " finished study " of the 
various changes, I shall pass half the day at cross stations, pacing 
to and fro like a Crimean sentry ? And having made all these 
arrangements, I find myself with forty-five minutes " to the 
good," sacred to the Times and my cigar. Not a bit of it. I 
must put up with the usual interruptions, which are not fictitious. 
Here they are : t 

A man with thirty pence to be changed by me into a half- 
crown, the said half-crown to be made into a ring and worn as a 
remedy for fits, the pence contributed by thirty sympathetic 
unmarried vestals. The tax collector, who called twice before 
but didn't leave his business ; and, by the way, I can't for the 
life of me find my cheque-book. A woman with a bottle de- 
manding medicine for a neighbour's child, of which she knows 
neither the age nor the disease, but will " go and ask." Lastly, 
a load of straw, requiring all my available hands to stow it away ; 
and a man with a county directory, to which, in a moment of 
aberration, I subscribed, and who now waits for the money and 
" has no change." 

At last I discharge these various suitors all but the woman 
with the bottle, whom I behold making the pace as I drop down 
the hill and, glancing at my watch, console myself with the 
conviction that if I send the dark chesnut along I may catch the 
train ; and what is more, I do it, with one minute and three- 
quarters left. As it is, the prudent gate-keeper at the crossing 
shakes his head and won't let me through, telling me, as he 
makes an extempore speaking-tube of his right hand, " she's 
signalled ;" but I get my ticket and go on. 

After the usual complement of "shuntings," waiting on 
" sidings," and changes for which this line is celebrated, I dis- 
embarked, to meet the whitechapel and " iron-grey with the 



A BRIGHT OCTOBEE. 201 

tanned muzzle," of whose knee action and pace I had frequently 
heard so much ; and, yielding myself to the pilotage of the clean- 
shaven groom, I was soon at the iron gates which admitted us to 
the beech avenue and state entrance. 

I had heard of this fine old seat before ; but, as it had but 
within a year or so been formally handed over to my friend after 
a Chancery suit, of some two or three centuries for what I know, 
I had never seen it until this time. Until we came close to the 
large quadrangle and the ornamental gates I could see but little 
of its form. I then observed that it was an old structure, pro- 
bably of the time of James I. ; that it was made up of gables 
and projecting windows, to which, not being an architect, I can give 
no name : whilst the porch was formed by a vast bay window of 
stained glass a part of the upper drawing-room and carried up 
two or three stories to a sort of tower. The fine old hall of 
many windows was well carpeted, as all halls ought to be ; and 
fashion had not interfered with the glorious old large fire-place 
and chimney-corner, with a log fire and quaint " dogs " to match. 
Thence all the rooms were entered, but modern civilisation had 
placed thick red curtains to each door ; so that in the evening, 
when the more gentle sex ascended the old black-oak staircase, 
and the smoking and the whist began, a more delightful chamber 
it would be very hard to find. Ample room in this " thirty-five 
feet by forty-six " for the large table spread with every periodical 
and letter-writing gear, the large rocking and easy chairs, and 
that dumb waiter furnished with strong waters, coffee, cavendish, 
and best brands of Havannah, which, following that old, pale, 
dry sherry and champagne, put all of us in good humour, in spite 
yes. in spite of the prospect of bills and Christmas. One at 
any rate of that company had well earned these comforts and this 
luxury in the last great war, though he thought more of the long 
tails which fell to his Boss gun that morning. 

I am not going to paint Crimean charges, or give a page or two 
of Jackson and Graham, gloating over villa-haberdashery or 
cracked china. I hate a chair you may do anything with except 
sit in it, or a sofa which declines to receive my head without that 
cotton mystery persistently shrouding my shoulders when I rise, 
or disdaining to be used as a couch if I so incline. Nor am I diffi- 
cult to please in the choice of a bed chamber ; if waterproof, it's 
comfortable. Be that as it may, I was fresh enough next morn- 
ing after spending (it seemed impossible to believe it) eight and a 
half good hours in that capital panelled bedroom sound asleep. 



202 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

What a bright glorious October morning shone upon me as I 
drew up the blind ! The curtains I discarded the night before. 
I anticipated this glorious weather as I, half awake, traced the 
shadows of the rooks crossing and recrossing from the two 
rookeries forming the background of these bowling greens (or 
alleys) and those green terraces which, tier upon tier, bound 
the large flat plot, now sacred to croquet, or, as some one 
hath it, " The Feast of Curates." I must be late, for there, 
on his blood chesnut ("a West Australian "), half a quarter of a 
mile away, sits my host, his dress a dun shooting jacket and very 
coarse cord breeches, his legs from the knee downwards encased in 
tanned flax gaiters broached with leather at the wearing parts. 
All this I ascertain by means of my field glass just before he 
turned away to look at his kennel, for which he sets forward 
with a racing seat and canters down the valley, on one side of 
which you may see his best covert of 900 acres. 

My watch reassures me ; I have half an hour to spare, and 
between the duties of the toilette I can observe the lines of 
scarlet geraniums, the coloured-leaved edging plants, the dahlias, 
and, what I like better still, a few spikes of hollyhocks still 
spared, and coming out in strong contrast from the wall of 
yew trees that, with doubtful taste, screen off the fine newly- 
restored church from the parterre of flowers and fragrance. 

Just then a rap at the door, and one of our party gives me the 
tip, " A knickerbocker breakfast, and we are going to kill par- 
tridges to Clumbers." "Make haste, he has been riding the 
young 'un ever since six this morning," So down to the hall, where, 
on the side table, are the guns all ready resting on their backs, 
poised on their hammers and muzzles. Through the window, on 
the old stone settle, I see the old keeper, whose face prepossessed 
rue at once in his favour and correctly impresses me. I sub- 
sequently discover whilst his granite suit of tweed makes him 
look as though he were carved in stone, a part of the seat he 
occupies. The delusion is strengthened by that peacock, which, 
tail erect, shows his gaudy plumage to the sun, but a fathom 
behind old Hammond that's the keeper's name and, walking 
daintily, displaying his ugly feet and legs upon the gravel, calls 
up the remembrance of my old godmother (rest her soul !) in her 
Indian shawl and black silk stockings, picking her way to Lewis 
and Allenby's across the London pavement. 

To the right, and in the breakfast-room amongst the old 
portraits of Delhi chiefs and warriors, beneath whom I observe 



A BRIGHT OCTOBER. 203 

our host busy at the "buffet" his arms as busy with the 
carving-knife, and almost as dexterous as was that sword hung 
above him when he rode a mere stripling close to Lord Cardigan 
in the charge of the Light Brigade and grouped round him I 
see another or two, one of whom rides straight and well, and 
trusts to Providence and his horse, for he can't see far before him 
except in Westminster Hall, when no place is too big for him. 

Breakfast discussed, we turn out and make for the turnips and 
rape, alongside of the various coverts, as yet scarce showing a 
sign of autumn, excepting those poplars by the trout stream, where 
you may now and then see the spraints of otters and track them 
to the beds of osier by the mill. 

We take out one brace of Clumbers, for whom the Captain 
pleads, " Give 'em time, if you've no objection," and we put 
them in the hedgerow for the chance of some wandering vagrant 
pheasant, one or two of which I see running ahead already. The 
dog takes the other side with his owner ; the bitch is on mine 
with Hammond, and busy in the long grass and fern. Whirr ! 
down she drops, and up whirls a fine old pheasant on the other 
side, and falls with a thud about fifty yards away. 

"All right," from the other side; and I hear the black re- 
triever, who has brought it, rolling in the leaves, as he watches 
the Clumbers going on, head and stern down, and trying every 
morsel of covert where a bird can crouch and avoid their 
vigilance. 

"Hammond ! " 

"Sir!" 

" Get on to the gate at the end of the hedgerow, and stand 
there." 

To hear is to obey ; and, whilst we give the old keeper law to 
reach his point, I notice the scent of a mild cigar coming through 
the hedge, and at the same moment two shots at the bird, both 
misses, acquaint me that smoking sometimes is hostile to good 
shooting. 

Two or three more rises ; but the birds went for the hare 
covert, and were, of course, allowed to go there scatheless. One* 
a pied bird, was to be let off anyhow, go where he would ; and 
then began the walking up partridges with this pair of spaniels ; 
and, let me observe, as good a brace as it has ever been my lot 
to see. 

I am speaking of a pair, perhaps four or five years old, used 
by the same men from their entry, and one of the best strains in 



204 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

England, and therefore in the world. As yet they have not the 
trick of breeding sporting dogs (" smell dawgs," the Yankees call 
them) anywhere but in the British Islands. Wolf hounds, sheep 
dogs suited for their localities, Alpine mastiffs, and some such 
breeds, you may get abroad, and, with some reservation, nowhere 
else so well ; but England for the English dog at any rate for 
the gun or horn, 

Then what besides ? Firmness and discretion, the utmost 
kindness and appreciation of his weaknesses, caresses and rewards 
when he makes signal use of his great faculties, and inexhaus- 
tible patience on your part under difficulties. When he knows 
his work, let him be spaniel, setter, or retriever, trust him ; but if 
he wilfully does wrong above all, if he imitates a wrong doer 
correct him. Above all things don't let this keen observer detect 
you shirking your work, or he will copy you. Always give him 
the wind, aye, if you walk miles for it. Dogs hunting by the 
nose can't do without it. 

At any rate, this October morning we did not throw a chance 
away. We were three guns, and all of one mind to give these 
beauties for I can call them nothing else full time to show 
their faculties and their training, delighted more with them than 
with that mere knocking down of the bird kicked up by the foot 
which obtains with some the name of sport. To me it is on a 
par with gipsy snuff-boxing, and of the two sports I prefer the 
last. As concerning birds, no " Aunt Sally " game for me. 

If we could manage the ground no better, we took one strip up, 
then walked back over the same ground, and took up the next 
piece, and so continued until all was finished. This we did in 
extreme cases only ; generally we were able to get a cross wind, 
and beat it exactly as any setter would quarter, if left, as a broken 
dog should be left, to work out the dictates of combined intel- 
ligence and education. 

It was a very pretty sight to see these Clumbers, sometimes 
in the rape or swedes, invisible, coming up to sight, busy with 
the scent, but never ranging more than half a gunshot off ; 
then waiting for the guns, half dropping their tails, going all the 
time, and looking anxiously for us to come on, saying as plainly 
as they could, " This way, my master ! " and then down as still 
as death until they got the signal to be up and on again ; some- 
times, not sure, waiting that the sign might be repeated ; whilst 
the retriever behind was silent and solemn, and like her master's 
shadow, until sent upon that errand from which she seldom 



A BRIGHT OCTOBER. 205 

returned without the bird or hare. No matter how long the 
search by this black slave for a winged runner or a crippled hare, 
there lay these Clumbers, silent, of course, and patient as statues, 
until they got " the office " to move on and find some more. 

It was a very trying country ; no hedges when we had left the 
neighbourhood of coverts, but a wild range of wolds and close 
cropped common, where the last bustard, or nearly the last was 
found. 

By the way, I have a notion that the last bustard was killed in 
Devonshire, sold for a shilling, and eaten by some commercial 
travellers.* But very likely, in 171)4, or a few years before, the 
taking of this bird on these bleak hills would have been no rare 
thing ; and, by the combination of the landed proprietors amongst 
these Wiltshire downs, it might be even now acclimatised and 
restored. 

On this ground I was somewhat astonished at the flints ; 
broken flints covered the entire surface of the soil, and where the 
grass was laid down it grew over them as by a miracle. If it 
wearied us, how trying it must have been for the dogs ; but the 
spaniels seemed little inconvenienced, and perhaps got over the 
effects of it by custom, and were led on by their love of sport. 
Occasionally these flints are most disastrous. I have several 
times had setters' feet cut by them, and one pointer of mine was 
ruined. 

At last we finished our day's beat, and made for the side of a 
down partly covered with junipers, thorn bushes, furze, and a 
tangled mass of brambles. Here I had an opportunity of seeing 
the steadiness of my two dumb confederates, which put up the 
rabbits and turned them to the gun with marvellous intelligence, 
now and then pointing them, and to all appearance watching 
them in triumph, as I have ere now seen a cat pointing in a 
hedge ; no chase, no riot, I need scarcely say no babble or noise 
whatever in fact, a pair of as good general servants as it ever 
was my lot to see. 

* In 1804 a great bustard was shot in Devonshire, and taken to Ply- 
mouth market, where a publican bought it for a shilling, and cooked it for 
some '"riders." These gentlemen perceiving, on dissection, the ditTerenco 
in the colour of the pectoral muscle from the other part of the breast, 
voted it improper food. A writer in the tfjmrtiny 3/a^ozjne (1817) describes 
these birds as confined to the Wilts Downs, unfrequented parts of Norfolk, 
and the high wolds of Yorkshire. Ho also states that Col. Thornton 
Hawkes could not catch them, and ridicules the notion that they could bo 
taken with greyhounds. 



206 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

I don't hesitate to say that pointers or setters are my strength 
(my weaknesses if you will), and that no pleasure on earth is 
equal or superior to mine when I see a pair of high rangers 
crossing each other independently and bringing up well on game ; 
but at times I am delighted with such a bit of discipline and 
intelligence as I saw that October morning, and kept up till dark, 
in spite of severe walking and that flinty soil. 



VARIED SHOOTING. 207 



PAPEE XXVH. 

VARIED SHOOTING. 

I HAVE in former years perhaps five-and-twenty years ago 
more than once enjoyed a wild day on what was described to me 
as " no man's land." In Hampshire a boatman took me across 
the water to shoot snipes on a capital marsh several times, near 
Christchurch, when my favourite pointer and I enjoyed ourselves 
prodigiously, and the sport was interspersed with wildfowl, or 
perchance an odd partridge or some foreign visitor, making a 
capital because an eccentric bag. Many years after I was visiting 
those parts, and casually mentioned the swamp where the one- 
armed boatman (drowned, by the way, at Mudiford) and myself 
disported ourselves, and I found that I had been unwittingly 
trespassing on the grounds of my then worthy host. 

It was quite a common thing to see boats " hauling off " at a 
wild tract of land, where I had the sole right for a dozen years or 
so, with a freight of gunners in the bow and a black dog 
" forrard ;" and I knew very well that the boatmen at a neigh- 
bouring town were at all times ready to land any number of 
itinerant sportsmen if the coast was clear. I once picked up a 
capital powder flask, nearly new, and a well broken active young 
spaniel, on that same ground just after daylight, for neither of 
which I could ever find an owner, though the boat which I sus- 
pect contained him was in the offing, and running with a fair 
wind for home. That was just as the daylight broke, and none 
of the ground had been disturbed. 

A neighbour of mine had some good wild shooting joining this, 
which has now passed into other and better hands. It is bog, 
moor, heath, and fir-tree plantations, with any quantity of peat 
and sand, and a vegetation of rushes. You could preserve rabbits 
on some parts of the ground, and keep the plantations quiet for 
woodcocks ; occasionally (if you whistled, not otherwise) a tame 
pheasant would run to meet you, or possibly a dozen guinea fowl. 
You could shoot them if you like they were bred on purpose, 
and, together with the pheasants, were thoroughly domesticated. 



208 THE IDBTONE PAPERS. 

Mv neighbour used to say whistling up birds was so much easier 
than beating ; he would blaze away at them until his gun was 
dangerously hot (and generally kill them, too), and I have 
waited for it to cool. He was not a thorough sportsman. We 
never knew his antecedents, as he persisted in going to sleep after 
dinner. I always thought he had been a paper-maker, for when 
some one handed him the Times, which contained startling news 
from India, he didn't read it, but, having put his tongue to the 
margin, gave it as his opinion it was " animal size," and passed 
it on ; and I have seen paper-makers test their goods in that 
way since. 

He always wore a frock coat, even with his beagles ; tried to 
catch wild ducks on their passage out to sea with nets hung on 
clothes' props : trapped the foxes or poisoned them, cubs and all ; 
and eventually departed for a cheerful town in Warwickshire, 
named Coventry, No, he didn't go, he was sent there. 

He was quite a representative man. He didn't enjoy his wild 
sport ; though it might have been made excellent at very little 
expense. With a gun punt on that grand old tidal river, and 
access to the rushy islands, where, watching the wind, you could 
land yourself, sculling with one oar in absolute silence, and kill 
teal, widgeon, ducks, or diver, and frequently get a good specimen 
for your museum, I can't imagine a better sport ; but this 
unsportsmanlike bird of passage didn't care for boating, saw 
nothing admirable in a dog's intelligence, and was not only a bird 
of passage, but a bird of prey. 

It is the same with hundreds of men, who have the power to 
exclude from such ground as this, though they never go over it. 
Many a thousand acres, the "tag" to some large shooting or 
other, remains unbeaten by the owner ; and, without exaggera- 
tion, there is enough of such wild ground preserved, unused, and 
unavailable for all that, to form a little county. 

I don't believe there is such a thing to be found as a tract of 
land presenting sport for two guns, unless you are prepared to 
have a millstone tied round your neck in the shape of a house 
possibly damp and badly drained, or with a queer roof, the dry 
rot, or such an exorbitant rent, and such a snob for a landlord, 
and such a tyrannical, grasping, mean, poverty-stricken, "poor- 
rich" devil in the shape of a game preserver over the nearest 
hedge, that all your efforts and your keeper's to get up a head of 
anything but weasels, rats, snakes, and hedgehogs would be 
thrown away. 



VAEJED SHOOTING. 209 

You must have the house. The shooting is only " let " to get 
rid of it. unless you can get the widow of a "civilian " to come 
there with her paraquet and monkey, or the civilian himself an 
old bachelor, you know, with six dark-complexioned, bilious- 
eyed half-castes who call him " uncle," and quarrel over his coffin 
by and by. 

That's the bore ! The better the shooting, the bigger the 
house. Put up with that embarrassment, and you will always 
unless things alter be able to get the domain of some bankrupt 
duke, or plunging marquis, whose accounts are dislocated 
purposely sometimes by his sleek steward, and as often as 
not by that set of sharks who are always ready to "renew" 
the bill. 

My good-natured critics will call this "padding." Well, per- 
haps it is ; and, if so, mine is not the only article adulterated. 

As to wild and varied shooting, it's a marketable commodity ; 
it can't be got without money, and vexatious conditions, and 
burly keepers who are for everlasting wanting " something to 
drink," or their wages "raised," or a new gun, or a couple of 
dozen of traps, or a new ferret box, or "some help" for night 
work, or their cottage thatched, or keep for a cow. or in fact 
anything that can be had by simply asking for it. And if such 
shooting is accessible and within a certain distance of London, it 
is worth half as much as the yearly rent, or any sum that the 
owner likes to ask. 

The majority of occupiers prefer preserving to letting ; and 
when the farmer has it, it forms a pleasant recreation for himself 
and his neighbours, which seems to cost nothing. 

I was in North Devon a few weeks ago, and from a new water- 
ing-place near Bideford, which struck me as the most dismal 
swamp I ever visited, a boatman showed me Lundy Island, about 
ten miles from Clovelly. "Lots of shooting there." he said. 
" rabbits and all sorts, and anyone may go. I takes people in my 
boat, and they bring back as much as the boat will hold gulls, 
woodcocks, snipes, and all sorts." I believe in ten minutes we 
might have been " under weigh," but that I remembered my 
Hampshire experiences, and could not but reflect that at my first 
shot possibly I might be interrogated by a keeper " with a 
deputation," and detained for " being in search or pursuit of 
game, or woodcocks, snipes, quails, landrails, or conies," and have 
to hear a learned pundit read from a legal document, " For that 
you, the said Idstone (or Hidstone), on, &c., &c., unlawfully did 

p 



210 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

use a certain dog, to wit, a setter, pointer, or lurcher (not being 
a greyhound), and a certain gun or engine, for the purpose of 
then and there killing or taking." &c. 

Now this would not have mattered to my red-faced friend in 
the battered hat and blue jersey, who would have simply rowed 
back again without me, unless I had "made it right" with the 
gamekeeper aforesaid, or shown I must be detained twelve hours, 
and therefore could not be legally detained at all which I 
believe is law, equity, or some such jargon ; but I was backed up 
in the opinion that shooting i. to be had at Lundy Island by an 
ex-keeper at my own place, who was born opposite to Lundy, 
and declares " anyone could shoot there fifty years ago ; and," 
he adds, " good shooting tew, I can tell ye, sir, for them as likes 
it wild." However, I have since been undeceived on this point, 
as Lundy Island is as strictly preserved as any nobleman's 
domain in England. 

Good cheap wild sport can be had, I believe, far away in the 
north of Scotland, and nowhere else except in Ireland, where 
there is this to be remembered, that they may take you for 
some one else and pot you, unless you " drive sharply down the 
avenue " a caution bestowed by an Irish squire upon his guest 
as he got into his carriage after dinner. Then there are both 
Norway and Sweden, where you may get capercailzie, black 
cock, woodcock, duck, snipe, curlew, partridge, and " a few 
hares," whilst lake and stream furnish salmon, trout, pike, and 
perch ; duck shooting commencing early in July, and other shoot- 
ing one day earlier than in Scotland. 

You may get tempted to take a day's shooting, a week's, a 
month's, where there is "room for one gun," and dogs, cham- 
pagne, claret, and domestic society are all furnished only 
beware. Don't take a ticket for more than one week until you 
have seen your host and are on terms of intimacy with his 
capital shooting pony, his industrious fleas, and his terrible 
" pot luck." His occasional day's rabbit shooting, with a variety 
of plover (never nearer than 400 yards), his scared sample of one 
partridge, and a stray pheasant (apocryphal!), may rather disgust 
you ; and the hilly walking, tough cheese, stale bread, and 
iinferior perry (bottled and metal-labelled) may prove unpalatable. 

I have heard of men going to these places once, and one very 
though army surgeon actually repeated his experience ; but at the 
end .of the fourth day he came home half dead from starvation, 
ind \with his cartridge pannier full as when he left. " They 



VARIED SHOOTING. 211 

didn't know I was come away for good," he gasped out as he got 
down at my door ; " I should have been starved in another day, 
and I believe that they had arranged to sell my body for 
dissection." 

There is one chance for those requiring rough shooting. It is 
to advertise. Now and then a man wants a gun or two to share 
the expenses of his ground. You may drop upon a good fellow, 
which habitual renters of moors are not. They divide themselves 
into two classes, hawks and buzzards. They shoot for profit, 
just as some men get packs of hounds subscription packs for 
profit. 

Did you ever know a good fellow who made it pay ? Well, 
between ourselves, I don't think / ever did ; nor is there any 
class of men "going North " of whom owners of moors have a 
more wholesome dread than those who sublet to "guns " on the 
hill, and find dogs, ponies, gillies, and other things '' not in the 
catalogue." 

I have known moors stripped of all game, and the shooting 
lodge defiled by the goings on of those greedy speculators men 
without honour, conscience, or common decency. 



212 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XXVHI. 

THE END OF THE SEASON. 

THE advent of February is, I confess, to a certain extent, a 
melancholy event to me. Although I do not always take advan- 
tage of the leave and licence I purchase to go in pursuit of game, 
I feel a vague melancholy as I drive to the last assembly of guns, 
clumbers, and retrievers. As we get to the end of the last copse, 
and the shades of evening fall, I wait for the fiat of the head keeper, 
always delivered in the same Norfolk accent, and with a total 
absence of all feeling except an impression of relief, as he touches 
his hat, and, looking around him, expresses his belief that it is 
" all over for this season." 

"All over" with game-destroying, doubtless, but not "all 
over " with me, nor with my companion here not a professional 
man, nor one of broad acres, but of that vague genus known as 
" connected with business," whatever that may be. 

I have known my young friend for years, and his father before 
him knew me, and both pere et fils were of the same business, 
though now the older has retired. 

It concerns none of my friend's acquaintance what his business 
is. He has no guns but Purdey's. His brandy-flask is of sterling 
silver, richly gilt within. His watch is a " compensating duplex 
three-quarter plate, jewelled in every hole, and goes fourteen 
days without winding up." His chain of 18-carat, and hall- 
marked. Grant made his gaiters, Poole "superintended" his 
coat. His knickerbockers are unique, and made by some one in 
Bond-street ; as he describes the place vaguely, I must do the 
same. All he can or will tell you is, " it's on the left-hand side." 
And as for a retriever (he always has one close by his side, but, 
unless appealed to in a difficulty, never lets him go), why, he is 
the envy of all his friends' keepers, and of the masters too. 

And then his "loader!" A neat, clean, sober, active fellow 
(six feet at least, like his master), and silent as the grave, never 
touching his master's elbow as the ground game is running, nor 
letting the muzzle of the second breech-loader be on a level with 



THE END OP THE SEASON. 213 

anyone's ear or heels. Down in a minute if anything heads back, 
so that his master can get a good shot over the velveteen jacket 
of his vassal, and at once be refurnished with breech-loader No. 2. 

My companion (I must disguise his name, or I may get him 
laughed at in the City, and so I will call him Robinson, though 
his name has really a more aristocratic sound and flavour) my 
companion thoroughly enjoys himself down here, or at his own 
place in Norfolk. He appreciates the pleasures of youth, good 
health, easy circumstances, and the best and largest cigars you 
ever tried. It is an understood thing between us that we neve\ 
attempt to penetrate the mysteries of his City life. I have heard 
that he is a stockbroker, but he isn't ; that he is an importer of 
Noah's arks, rocking horses, "and sich ;" that he is the Assam 
Tea Company ; that he held some thousands of Eantoon shares, 
and had an interest in that wonderful single barrel with no stock, 
with which in the picture the keen sportsman was flooring wild 
ducks. The envious said he was in the pork and sausage trade, 
and that he was once seen in a Norway fishing smack at 4 a.m. 
off Billingsgate ; but all this wants authenticating. The most 
that could be said against him was that twice he was seen driving 
in the Uxbridge road and making for Oxford-street (and probably 
Holborn), both times at 10.30 a.m., in a mail phaeton with 
bright chains ; a pair of dark browns with tan muzzles were 
stepping well up to their bits in front of him, and going, as 
John Tollitt expressed it "within themselves." But then the 
Uxbridge road leads to so many places that it's hardly fair to 
insinuate he was going to the office ; and had he been about to 
thus sacrifice himself, I see no harm in it. 

He was either a sleeping partner, or he had some capital 
representative ; for I never knew him relinquish any oppor- 
tunity of taking his pleasure because he was otherwise engaged. 
He did everything so easily ! no fuss, or as he called it " bother." 
" If I have not plenty of partridges," he said to me one evening 
after a brilliant day's shooting at his Norfolk manor, " I dismiss 
the whole lot. I get a head keeper, and I let him get his own 
men, and he has all the blame if there is any, and takes the con- 
sequences. I can't be coming here to look after them : they 
must ' superintend ' themselves." As soon as the shooting is 
over I am off to fish, and perhaps I shan't see their faces until I 
take down my cousins to have a day's rook shooting whilst I see 
the young pointers out ; by that time the governor wants me to 
go yachting with him ; and then there's the grouse." 



214 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

And this brings me to where I started from " the end of the 
shooting season." 

A few years ago I was returning from a large party. We had 
been beating a celebrated covert of 1000 acres, full of fat pheasants 
quite as tame as fowls. 

I took up three " guns " in my dog cart, and my men walked 
home. One of my companions (he on the box seat with me) seemed 
over-melancholy on the subject, and said, with a sigh which 
would have done credit to an undertaker, that " we must put 
our guns into their coffins now." 

It seemed to me that he was almost inclined to order one for 
himself, and, knowing that he was of a morbid turn, I tried to 
cheer him up a bit. For my part, fated as I am to live in the 
centre of desolation, with no neighbours who can "drop in " a 
wild heath on one side of me, and a vast deer park on the other 
I have been compelled to find out some employment and occu- 
pation, and thus carry on the war. 

My old breaker will as surely be at my door the 2nd or 3rd of 
February as the collector of income tax, and takes off instalments 
of young pupils about every three weeks. I know where to find 
him any morning if I reach his cottage at half-past nine, when 
he will have given them a preliminary canter ; and if I don't care 
to take a young Irishman from Ballinasloe Fair for an eight miles' 
drill in my Whitechapel, I can loose my young retriever and give 
him a bit of waiting discipline amongst the rabbits in the fir 
plantation yonder. 

There is plenty to do in a country place without spending 
much money, or going salmon fishing, yachting, and so forth. 
With a couple of ferrets, a few yards of line, and a spike collar, I 
can make a young retriever, check the depredations of vermin, 
and ascertain their haunts. I have no sooner finished one year's 
sport and exercise than I prepare for the next. The setters I shot 
over last year in Perthshire will probably be next season backing 
and pointing in Indiana, or standing snipes in Eussia. I like new 
tools, and to see young dogs develop and reward niy patience, 
labour, and self-control. Robinson wants it all done for him. 
Here goes ! I'll do it. 

A good walk in the early morning with mv breaker, another 
after two hours' rest, luncheon, and then what Jem calls " a two 
hours finisher to put the polish on," is more to my taste than 
human pupils and so many inches of a Greek play, especially when, 
dropping off to sleep at half-past eleven, I seem to hear Jem's 



THE END OF THE SEASON. 215 

last words : "Well, if he do go to Stafford, sir. and tliey have a 
judge as is a judge, and can count his marks up after he ve a give 
'em, up wind or down wind, they will have a job to beat him." 

" You promised to come and weed my kennel," says one of my 
old friends. I throw my portmanteau into the railway carriage, 
and go and do it. Hard if on that march I don't learn some- 
thing to be done or avoided. It's not so very long ago that 
I learnt on one such expedition the way to make a good, 
portable, light shelter for a keeper out of five wattled hurdles. 
combined with cheap hinges, something like an Indian screen. 
At the same time I got a good hint or two on dog breaking, and 
saw a dog-cart which was new to me, and rode in it, and it went 
down at once in my indexed note-book. Item. I saw a good 
way of detecting trespassers ; and such a clever pitfall, that it took 
in my friend who made it. and as he explained it to me we 
disappeared together ! 

It is far more pleasure to Statter's breaker, or my old Jeui, or 
my ' apprentice " to Jem (a wiry young fellow with more 
muscle than experience as yet) to see dogs perjonn, than it is to 
the swells who merely write big cheques for them to-day and 
spoil them to-morrow ! The genuine sportsman, who can make a 
dog and hunt him which is a far mere scientific thing than the 
" shooting man " supposes who can superintend game rearing, 
set a wire or trap, and outmanoeuvre a poacher to whom wood- 
craft is a plain open book; who can detect the presence of a 
stoat or weasel, and even decipher a foil, however 'cute the 
vagabond or vermin that made it, has ten times the enjoyment 
of ordinary men who turn their hundred-guinea dogs adrift 
without studying wind or scent, think beating a field means 
crossing it at right angles, and are as proud of seeing their 
names in prize lists at dog shows as though they had made their 
animals, about which they know as much as half the picture 
collectors, or those virtuosi who buy every rare violin that gets 
into the market, though they could not for the life of them put 
even the second string in tune or screw up the bow ! 

It will be apparent to those who read what I write that I am 
decidedly inclined to " dodges," and so I am. One dodge I have 
found invaluable in a dull place to be always occupied somehow, 
wet or fine weather, the whole year round. 



216 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 



PAPER XXIX. 

ON BEATING FOR GAME. 

OUR ancestors shot for sport and health, and enjoyed seeing their 
dogs work. They went to the moors, in the days of flint and 
steel, and for the greater part of " the percussion epoch," to 
enjoy the exercise of hard walking on the moorside, with the 
charming interlude of the luncheon spread on the grey boulders 
of the Brawl, and another walk after it ; then home to a 
wholesome dinner, with a good appetite, on a sure-footed Highland 
pony. I cannot say whether the grouse in those days were 
more approachable than they are in these. I fancy they had 
wild seasons and wild days ; and that the laws of scent were as 
mysterious as they are now, with this difference, that whilst they 
could get a point with "a southerly wind and a cloudy sky," we 
must have some east in it, or the dogs are at fault. If birds 
were less shy, I am inclined to think it was because fewer men 
shot grouse they were not so frequently disturbed, and there 
were not half so many discharges of the gun as in these days 
of breech-loaders with snap actions and rebounding locks. 

A revolution has gradually broken out amongst renters of 
moors. Many a man now "goes north" without any team of 
dogs, or, it may be, without a retriever. Ostensibly he requires 
exercise and change of scene : he secures the last, but the first 
he does not get. He may do all his shooting in Eegent-street 
patent-leather boots, and his knickerbockers will come back to 
his London chambers unsplashed if he so wills it, and yet he 
may have slain his thousands. He has done it in a way of his 
own. He may even knock over his birds without moving from his 
rocking-chair, keeping iced punch and thin sandwiches within 
reach of his languid arm. He may be dallying with the Times, 
Morning Post, or the Field, his head supported by an air 
cushion, and kill his right and left with the most cool indifference. 
Meanwhile he is within speaking distance of one or two com- 
panions, and at any rate he can telegraph by silent signals to his 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 217 

observant man that he requires fresh refections. Strong exer- 
cise, climbing hills, and " that sort of thing " he leaves to 
gillies, who are driving the grouse over his head. 

Now and then these proceedings are enlivened by a sweep- 
stakes, and then you want to throw a little more energy into the 
work. " You must exert yourself, you know," which means 
you must have an active Scotch lad to pick up the birds after 
every flight and raking shot, without caring whether his em- 
ployer or his neighbour killed them ; and it is a capital joke to 
have a clever retriever in this case, who will " fetch the other 
fellow's birds " (or at any rate pieces of them), from the grasp of 
the other fellow's dog. One rather heavy sum was honourably 
won last season by making up a winning bird from fragments 
thus obtained, and it was allowed as perfectly fair and the right 
thing to do, " under the circumstances." 

This system has become fashionable, but it must not be dig- 
nified by the name of sport. Men shoot now for " the bag," 
which is not altogether shooting for " the pot." Once the birds 
are counted, Young England cares little who has them. The 
pot is always "going" to receive "broken game," which means 
game blown to pieces from over anxiety or want of calculation ; 
and the rest, after " the house " is supplied, is dispersed in deal 
cases by the iron roads. And oh ! the bore and trouble that it 
is ! If Young England makes a good game-book he is satisfied, 
though he may do it in an inartistic manner. All the writing in 
the world won't stop him ; it is no exertion, and there is less 
probability of missing. 

He finds his shooting pony (low to mount and a safe one on 
the heath) waiting at the door on a fine bracing August morning, 
and his companions equally well provided, each of these sturdy 
little horses held by a sharp, intelligent Scotch lad ; and possibly 
a " sweepstakes retriever " or two may be of the party. The 
provender has been sent ahead (the gigantic grouse pie frequently 
carried on a man's head, by the way, and kept hot with blankets), 
and it may be a folding chair or so, to the spot over which the 
grouse are to be driven. This place may be a sudden fall below a 
hill, or a range behind a bank ; or, now and then, permanent huts 
are erected for the purpose, so comfortable and weather-proof that 
something far less hardy than a Crimean hero could survive the 
night in them. It may be one o'clock before even the breakfast is 
over, letters are answered, gossip at an end, and the lords of their 
time are prepared to aw ! shoot ! The more energetic of the 



218 THE roSTONE PAPERS. 

class will have a little walk beforehand, and perhaps a brace or 
leash of setters. But, unaccustomed to the poetry of shootiny, 
they won't give the dogs time to hold their birds or quarter their 
ground ; and having half ruined their breaking and brought the 
keeper to the verge of apoplexy by suppressed wrath, they come 
empty away. By this time the crowd of gillies and helpers have 
driven whole packs of grouse to a given space, almost as cer- 
tainly as a boy can ' herd " turkeys, and when the guns are 
placed the driving begins. 

It is but moving the battue northward ; the slaughter is posi- 
tively delightful. " If it hadn't been for the cripples we should 
have had a tremendous bag." '' Ever so many went away with 
their legs hanging down." These are the remarks you may 
overhear as you ride along, which means simply that, as we 
saunter home smoking our cigars, a number of inoffensive birds 
are pining in anguish and dying by inches because we shoot into 
the brown of them. Unhappily, some cripples will be lost, shoot 
how you will, for " driving " I am sure not only increases the 
bag but augments the suffering one thousand fold. 

The old system was far more laborious, but to my niind, 
beyond all comparison, superior. It required talents of no 
common order, and every man was not calculated to take the 
lead. One man, the best sportsman, was required for that 
position, and possibly to work the dogs. The keeper ought to 
be competent to do this ; and any intelligent man might learn 
how to keep dogs right in one day's shooting, although not even- 
tempered or persevering enough to "make" them which is 
another thing. If the keeper can do this, he relieves his master 
and improves his shooting, for handling dogs and killing birds do 
not go well together. And if the dogs are well handled it will 
probably be by the man who broke them, and to whom justly 
belongs the credit of the display, though something is due to 
the discernment of the man who bought them, and more to the 
breeder who sends out a good one. 

The head of the party has sometimes to choose between two 
evils giving his dogs the wind and driving grouse off his moor, 
or taking his dogs up and walking that beat without them. The 
latter is perhaps the best course ; but under any circumstances 
he will lose no time by beginning at the lowest point down wind, 
and giving his dogs the advantage of it all day. If the wind is 
light, or imperceptible by other means, he may ascertain its 
direction by throwing up a few of those downy feathers which 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 219 

are always lying perdu in the game pocket. Having arrived at 
his starting point, he should place a sharp-sighted boy or two in 
commanding situations, to mark and try, as he beats with his 
setters, to drive the birds towards some favourable " laying." 

He will effect this by keeping that outside gun well forward, 
which he wishes to head the birds from him, and, indeed, by 
beating in an oblique line. He must not go right ahead, for 
thus he could not command a wide beat ; but he must take a 
side wind, and then come back. But all this will depend 
upon the nature of the ground and the covert he tries. If 
he works the dogs, he must know precisely when to whistle 
and signal them, so as to control their quarter if they range too 
wide of his party ; and none must interfere with the dogs except 
he to whom that responsible office is assigned. In hunting dogs 
for the gun the wind is everything. Let the scent be blown to 
them, and, if the piece is wide, it must be given to dogs by 
diagonal or oblique parallels. 

In ordinary cases, when dogs want blood, follow birds marked 
down, having first called the dogs to heel, but if the dogs are 
doing well never think of the bag, and, above all, never think of 
your last miss, or of the possibility of missing. 

The whole line must move gently forward, and not fast. 
There ought to be no talking, but at any rate no noise ; and 
when the dogs point and back they should be approached with 
perfect silence and the greatest deliberation. 

To one or two " outsiders " the duty falls of marking the birds 
killed ; to another marking those unscathed, which are certain 
to flap their wings before they settle, and probably fly farther 
than a novice would suppose. Any of the party first observing 
the dogs pointing may call the attention of the line to that fact 
by raising his hand, when the leader will signal how they are to 
be approached. 

A brace of dogs will often be enough, but when the ground is 
severe, a leash or two brace may be used with advantage : and, 
provided they are clever and well broken, the more the belter. 

When the birds have fallen to the gun, the retriever may be 
set to work. He should be close to his master's leg, or at the 
downcharge, and one dog only can be used at a time. The dead 
birds ought to be recovered without him, but if they are lost, he 
should be taken to the place where they were supposed to fall 
after the runners are secured, and his owner, pointing to the place, 
should let him work deliberately, and give him plenty of time. 



220 THE ID6TONE PAPEE8. 

Then he may be put upon the winged, or sent after the towered 
birds, and when all are retrieved he must resume his place by 
his master's side ; the setters may be signalled to hunt again, 
and the sport proceeds. 

This retrieving the deliberation required for enforcing the 
downcharge, the contemplation of a magnificent point, and the 
steady pace of the line of guns gives a little time for rest and 
enables us to contemplate the wonderful instinct and sagacity of 
our dumb companions ; and it is something to talk over when we 
sit by the great fire at night. To my mind this method is far to 
be preferred to the insane scamper of a line of guns who take 
their chance of grouse, or very likely walk over the majority of 
them, lying hidden where nothing but a dog could detect their 
presence. But those who shoot will have their own way, and 
amuse themselves according to their fancy, whilst, so long as 
fashion dictates "driving" men will drive. 

I anxiously expect the time when men will hunt foxes without 
hounds, or possibly without foxes. The latter feat I accom- 
plished verily when, in pursuit of " aniseed " and with a few 
mangy hounds, I hunted " the drag " at Oxford, and ascertained 
the depth of Waterperry Brook. 

Still I will not believe, as a recent writer has stated, that the 
pointers and setters bred by such men as Mr. Garth. Mr. White- 
house, Mr. Francis, Mr. Meir, of Tunstall, Mr. Comberbatch, 
the blue blood of grand old Hamlet, or Queen, or Beau, or 
Bounce, or Jill, or the mighty Drake, will be lost or undervalued 
in the future, or that the setters bred by Mr. Statter, Mr. 
Bevan, or last and not least, "Stonehenge," will ever glare wildly 
from glass cases in the British Museum, as specimens of an 
extinct race. 

The steam horse has done wonders, but the steam dog will 
never range the moor. There are limits to young England's 
speed, though I hope not to his endurance, when he moves north- 
ward to the land of whisky, new milk, and heather. 



I FLAPPER SHOOTING. 

Many excellent sportsmen would not go a hundred yards to 
get the best river shooting which is procurable in July, because, 
having plenty of money and time at their own disposal, they can 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 221 

find abundant amusement suited to the time of year. Like my 
friend " in the City," their excellent keeper will take care that 
"the best retriever in England " is at concert pitch when they 
fly northward in August ; and, until they hand over all business 
to the bailiff, steward, or "agent," who now dubs himself 
esquire, they have London and country amusements galore from 
"morn to dewy eve." 

Those with whom "ponies and monkeys" are abundant, and 
who do not object to bidding them adieu for ever, have the range 
of all the race meetings one after the other ; but to the uninitiated 
in handicaps and the Racing Calendar the croquet lawn presents 
much the same excitement, whilst at any rate the danger of 
losing cash or notes is reduced to a minimum. 

Not having a yacht myself (unless I may dignify by that title 
my duck punt and spritsail) ; being beyond the range of ices, 
where refrigerators as yet have not penetrated, and a water cart 
is as uncommon as "the noted " black swan of Latin Grammar 
celebrity I have to seek for a change of temperature by the river's 
brink, and to escape the chances and dangers of sunstroke 
amongst the shady poplars. 

Sydney Smith it is. I believe, who accuses the Englishman of 
always desiring to kill something on a fine day. I don't feel that 
myself ; but I do know that a gun in the hand, and a good dog 
behind or in front of one, changes a wretched constitutional walk 
into exhilarating and healthy exercise. 

At Oxford we had two descriptions of summer birds : first, 
he who did the High-street in a new glossy hat, u frock coat, 
patent leather boots, gloves of the most delicate tint, with a tie 
the gods might envy, and perhaps be persuaded to wear about the 
hips. He was generally attached to a confrere as exquisite, who, if 
his right hand were free, brandished an Algerian myrtle or 
" clouded cane." The other sect were to be found on the Isis or the 
Cherwell, or having a bit of practice off Lillywhite's bowling at 
Bullington Green ; whilst the faster lot, whether the ground was 
good or bad for it, got up a scratch race of Oxford hacks, or sent 
them flying at the hurdles by way of practice. The last divi- 
sion, by far the most numerous, form the nucleus of the coming 
sportsmen ; and having one of the lot staying with me last 
month a period of the year when there is little going on I was 
glad to show him somewhat of rural amusements, most of which 
are now to be had by the river side. 

We had a bye day with the rats, which are always thick about 



222 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

kennels, but the sport was meagre, so we gave it up until the corn 
should be garnered, and these wary rodents betook themselves to 
their winter haunts again. In the nick of time I got a hint that 
there were lots of young ducks amongst the flags and osiers, about a 
mile before you got to the old church and that overshot mill beyond 
it. Next day (the interval seemed twelve months to my young 
comrade) we put up the breechloaders, and started for the river 
in the valley yonder, where they are trying, but I fear fruitlessly, 
to preserve, or rear, or breed salmon, and reduce its price from 
2s. 6d., stale and tasteless, to 8d., fresh and with the curd. 

The boat, moored under the old Monks-bridge, is awaiting us, 
and the surly blacksmith, who knows every twist and turn of the 
stream, and every hole where with the cast net he can get "bait," 
gives us a frowning welcome. Although he would make believe 
that we have kept him waiting, he begins with a morose gesture 
to bale the water out. By way of making things pleasant, my 
young cub, who is quick enough at discerning any human being's 
weakness except his own, affects an extreme intimacy with 
Vulcan, though- until then he had never seen him, and offers 
him a few grains of consolation, which in reality are only chaff. 

I see at once that it is best to cut matters short, and placidly 
direct the smith (whose countenance grows darker as the sus- 
picion is aroused that some of his finer feelings are being played 
upon) to go down stream and show us where he last saw " them 
eight ' flappers ' as could fly like old 'uns." 

Loosing, with a twitch that manifested extreme impatience, 
what I suppose, to speak nautically, I ought to call the painter, 
but what my stable boy persists in calling the halter, our boat- 
man signalled with his head in the direction of some bullrushes, 
and intimated, in a few by no means well-chosen words, 
" That's about where they was last Sunday when the bells was 
going for morning church." 

At the spot he showed me, the bullrushes, six or eight feet 
above the water, were as thick as they well could be, and, though 
the water was four or five feet deep or more, a dog could almost 
walk upon them, especially where the young broods had been in 
the habit of roosting for the night, and had beaten them flat 
down like the old-age rush-strewn floors. 

A few patches of what decoymen call " bright water " could 
be seen as we walked along the banks, bored by water voles for 
miles, and whereon in one place I could see the spraints of an 
otter, and the grassy knoll where he had curled himself round to 



ON BEATING FOR GAME. 223 

enjoy the sun, after well beating down the grass, that nothing 
might obstruct his view or shelter an enemy. 

From the boat, which he thrust through the tangled mass of 
weeds inch by inch, the blacksmith was thrashing the strong 
rushes with his punt pole, and making those inarticulate sounds 
which from time immemorial have been supposed to rouse wood- 
cocks or hares, rabbits and other prey. He had just beaten a 
flowering rush to pieces, and its pink petals were drifting down 
the stream, when there was what he called a " scuttle " amongst 
the stalks and weeds, and something as yet it might be moor- 
hens was " playing back and forrard," as he told us with an 
excited countenance which for the moment made him look posi- 
tively handsome. True enough, his was a countenance that 
looked best when lighted up which means, observe, that at no 
other time was it fit to be seen. " I suppose," he suggested, 
with a confidential wink, " the young gentleman on the bank 
yonder knows these flappers don't fly so fast as old uns." And 
then, in a sort of Surrey Theatre "aside," he roared to my 
academic friend in a slightly vindictive way, " I say you, shoot 
slap at 'em when they gets up, and mind you don't mull it." 
" Won't your dog go in the water?" he continued, looking at my 
retriever ; " why, he ought to go and hunt these rushes like a 
spaniel " advancing the opinion, which he offered to corroborate 
by a bet of " any money " that Mr. Somebody had one, a sort of 
mixed breed, that would drive every duck between that spot and 
the next five miles, to dry ground or the heavens as sure as any- 
thing. "At any rate," he added confidentially, "they musn't 
hide in the water." This was no news to me, for I have seen 
an Irish spaniel do wonders in such water, and a good terrier or 
small spaniel, when fond of swimming, is an excellent animal for 
the sport, but curly retrievers, as a rule, are the best of water 
dogs. 

I had hoped to have the assistance of a couple of good water 
dogs, and so I explained to him ; and I did not depend upon my 
usual retriever to do anything except fetch a cripple or dead 
bird. For river shooting you want a dog especially adapted to 
the sport, and fond of it ; and unless you have one, in wide 
rivers as this was, you lose half your labour. 

When a river is thirty, forty, or (at the bends) fifty yards wide, 
and one mass of weeds, which make the surface of the water dark 
even in a glaring sun, and, when to this is added the shadow of 
thorn bushes, alders, tall poplars, and the obscure nooks and 



224 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

crevices formed by old pollard willows ''askant " the brook, it is 
very easy for the dusky brood of young ducks to get back without 
splash or observation ; and this they will do unless they are 
pressed hard to fly, because they know they are safe in the water, 
and as yet have not made sufficient proof of their flight to trust 
to their wings unless you force them. I myself saw several " head 
back," and, plunging into the osiers, they were seen no more ; but of 
the lot our boatman saw we sprang three or four, and yet, owing 
to bad shooting, killed but one of them. Two, turning to the 
right, deserted the stream, and, making across the meadow, got 
moderately high up in the air ; then, drawing up their feet as 
ducks do when preparing to ascend beyond the gun's range, they 
made for a bend of the stream behind us, into which we marked 
them. 

Whether because we had no dogs, or because there were few 
ducks or many to pursue them, our bag that day was small, and 
much inferior to what years ago I used to get with a famous 
liver-and-white spaniel and an old muzzle-loader, which, though 
an undoubted killer, was, as my old boatman used to say, hardly 
safe for a gentleman unless he insured his life. There we used 
often to walk the birds up in the deep grass, or the spaniel 
puzzled them out, for they left the river at the sound of our 
boat ; and I have now and then shot six or eight of them in a 
four-acre water meadow, and missed as many more. 

There is some very charming river shooting not far from Stock- 
bridge, in Hampshire, where they shoot the flappers in this way ; 
nor does it materially influence the winter wildfowl shooting, or 
disturb the "lead" as it is called that is, the tendency and 
disposition of birds to harbour there as they come from (let us 
say) Iceland or but I leave this to naturalists and " pro- 
fessors." 

This last July I was most fortunate in seeing such river and 
rushes and wild country as I don't think I ever saw before, and 
scarce expect to see again. The land part of a manor of nine 
thousand acres is wild as in the days of coracles and ancient 
Britons, and presents doubtless precisely the same features as it 
did in the olden tune ! It would have been, as Eoyal Academi- 
cians say, " in keeping " had a herd of Chillingham cattle charged 
us in that valley of water meadows, or if a naked savage had 
scuttled across the " broad " of one of those rushing streams in 
his wicker boat. 

I won't anticipate further the flapper shooting I went to see, 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 225 

but, without aiming at effect, "loose my shaft," as the gentle- 
man archer said in the play. 

Certainly the men of old well knew the line that separated the 
sterile and the fertile ground ; and I have noticed this positive 
knowledge all the way where heath land cuts in, from Dorchester 
to Woking. As I crossed the heath road leading to Moreton 
station, and came upon the lodge gates and shrubbery, I was 
much struck with this fact ; outside the entrance the ground 
would starve a peewit, but inside you came upon good oaks, fine 
old beeches, and white-barked birch trees which form the com- 
mencement of a thoroughly shaded avenue of about two miles. 
It is but occasionaDy that you can see the light overhead for 
which I had no need to look, as in that hot July day I was 
thankful for the shade, only interrupted now and then for a yard 
or two as I drove along. I was of course too late for the rhodo- 
dendrons, which were making their seed pods now, their green 
leaves charmingly contrasting with last year's autumn leaves, that 
hid the ground, except where the bright and rare ferns were 
growing luxuriantly. 

Here and there was a fine holly many a foot in girth, and now 
and then larch and lime. In such a situation larch does no 
harm, because, although pheasants will roost in them or, 
indeed, in any tree they can see their way well up to the 
covert is well guarded by a thick, impenetrable belt, in which at 
dusk hardly any poacher would care to entangle himself. Along 
the wide drive I kept on at a slow pace, grateful for the shade, and 
glad to know that I was twenty minutes before my time, for I 
had to get over a good many miles before I could say my day's 
drive was done. At last I came to an old wide short bridge, with a 
rapid shallow steam of clear water shooting under it, so clear that 
I could count the pebbles. A turn to the left, and I am told by 
my guide a little girl with a physic bottle, whom I picked on 
the heath, for she held up the said bottle with its white tippet of 
instructions, and begged for a lift for the sake of the laundress at 
the House, who, she said, had got " the rescivelas " (erysipelas) 
I am told by my guide, I say, that as soon as I get through 
the next gate I shall see the Squire's great house beyond the 
bridge, and the church on the right hand opposite. 

I find her description true enough ; for, emerging from the 
dark drive, crossing two rivers, I am in a fine old park stretching 
away, so far as I can see, for miles. To the right, almost hidden 
by (I think) plane trees, are the old hunting stables ; beyond, 

Q 



226 THE IDSTONE PAPEB8. 

high up on, as it seems to me, an artificial mound, one of the 
most highly decorated churches in the country ; and all of this 
mirrored in what shall I say ? eight or ten acres of broad clear 
water. 

As my wheels grate upon the gravel, up rise a flock of wild 
ducks from this sheet of shallow water, and, circling over my 
head, almost near enough, as it seems, to knock my hat off, they 
drop into the water like a charge of grape. As I rise the hill I 
come upon the old mansion but not so very old, for opposite 
the dark stain on the grass shows where the old one stood a 
hundred years ago. 

Be that as it may, the present house is of old Purbeck stone, 
grey with age and weather-stained ; well contrasted, on the other 
side, with that line upon line of scarlet geraniums which, a mile 
or so beyond, intimates the garden walk, and separates the well- 
mown pasture, where otherwise the eye would fail to distinguish 
lawn from gravel. 

As I thought more of the outdoor attractions than of what the 
owner could offer me inside, I was glad to get at once to the side 
of these two rivers, which run parallel, and, being admirably 
skirted with rushes eight or ten feet high, form the best shelter 
for wild duck which it has ever been my lot to see. Of course a 
straight river is little better than a pond for ducks. The best wild- 
fowl shooting you can get by river sides is in those streams which 
run zigzag and at sharp angles, as do the Frome and Piddle. 

The shooting begins about a quarter of a mile from the house, 
and, by commencing in the middle and starting in opposite 
directions, it would be easy to make two or even four parties for 
July or winter duck shooting. Only let them be composed of 
men who won't talk, or cough, or sneeze, or call out, or whistle 
(sotto voce) to come here or go there, or stop a minute, when it's 
out of the question, and can't be done at any price. 

I should say the stout keeper whom I met by appointment, 
and who was described to me as a fund of information, must 
have got his supernatural taciturnity from " biding" among the 
ducks. But that his master kindly went with me, I should have 
been utterly in the dark as to the best points and the choice 
snipe bogs and trout holes, all of which interested me. Although 
I am ignorant, to my sorrow, of the art of fishing, I am glad to 
be made acquainted by an experienced hand of the salmon 
hatching and rearing going on here, and of the best place for a 
plunge on a sultry day. 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 227 

It was with no slight gratification that I saw the charming 
double bends and high rushes of the Frome (and to describe one 
river is to describe both), and was shown by the stout old keeper 
in dumb show, and by the master in a few words, the way they 
manage to kill almost any number of flappers in summer or 
mallards in the snow and ice. 

There must be five or six miles of walking by the river side, 
and if you shoot both together the guns would be a quarter of a 
mile apart. Two guns to each river is the usual thing, and 
these take it in turns to go to the head or end of the piece 
beaten, which always is a bend. As you walk along the young 
ducks flutter on, and there is little weed to hide them. At the 
bend they see themselves headed, and up they go at once. When 
the stream is weedy the old grizzled retriever will put them 
up, but he is seldom required, except to recover dead birds 
floating down the stream. 

In a sort of amphitheatre formed by woods descending to the 
plain I saw a capital locality for a decoy, and I heard that some 
huts had been put up there successfully. There were also some 
admirable clumps of osiers and alders, and, what ducks especially 
enjoy, water at different elevations, and consequently at varying 
temperatures. One reed bed, an especially favourite piece of 
lying with the silent keeper, held a number of flappers, some of 
which we got to fly, but most of them rushed into the green 
reeds and disappeared. As we returned they got up at nearly every 
bend in threes and fours together, and, stretching out for a flight, 
as it seemed to me, whirled round, and pitched in again close at 
hand. 

All this first-rate duck shooting was one continuation of water 
weeds, with "spear," as they term the reed left when the grass 
is cut. This "spear 1 used to be the ditcher's perquisite, and he 
sold it to purchase his new water boots for the ensuing winter. 
Of course this spoilt the duck shooting and the duck breeding, 
and it is done away with. 

I am very glad to find hereabouts, at any rate, a strong in- 
clination to preserve wildfowl, and to encourage their breeding 
by keeping their haunts secluded. 

True enough, they will never furnish the sport pheasants 
afford if battue is sport for at the first discharge they are on 
the wing, unless the place, like that I have endeavoured to 
descrite, is adapted for the mallard by nature. Then I honestly 
believe that a couple of good guns might bring to bag as many 

Q 2 



228 THE IDSTONE PAPES3. 

head as any thorough sportsman could require, and meet with 
some such shooting as would pleasantly vary the monotony of the 
warm corner, and give even an old hand plenty to do as he 
calculated pace and range. 

I know of but one place that equals Mr. Frampton's (above 
described) excepting always Mr. Drax, of Charborough's varied 
ground, in Dorsetshire and Kent, and that is the Longstock 
flapper shooting, situated near Stockbridge, in Hants, and lately 
the property of Mr. Joseph Anderson, of Piccadilly. There the 
natural advantages offered by the river for duck or trout could 
with difficulty be rivalled or excelled, except in extent and variety. 



II. PARTBIDGE SHOOTING. 

Very little trouble is taken in the preservation of partridges, 
considering the sport they afford. 

They are left to shift for themselves, and provided their eggs 
are neither broken nor stolen, most game preservers consider that 
they have done all that can be required of them. 

The lordly pheasant is the aristocrat of the manor, and if he 
has "a good sprinkling of birds for breeding," the keeper never 
troubles himself about them. 

A good deal might be done to increase the stock, I mean 
beyond the ordinary custom of putting those eggs which are 
mown out of clovers and grass under hens, although they cannot 
be bred in confinement like pheasants (at any rate only one or 
two instances are recorded). For instance the birds might be 
continually driven out of the clovers, and the fields might be 
" brushed" which they frequently are not. The keepers too, 
might give a general attention to the destruction of running 
vermin, or the prowling of stray dogs, especially towards the end 
of June, and they would in wet seasons add largely to their stock 
of birds by making scrapes in the wheel ruts, or water holes for 
the escape of the young birds which constantly fall in when 
their feathers are wet and " draggled." 

But, partridge shooting is not so favourite a sport as it was, 
when very few men comparatively emigrate to the north. "Lor, 
bless you," a friend of mine said to me as we were lunching one 
September afternoon, in the shade of a vast beech tree, with thirty 



ON BEATING FOR GAME. 229 

odd brace hung up to cool among the branches. " Lor bless you, 
after the moors these birds seem no better than biggish beetles ! I 
always think of a cockchafer when I see one get up." He was no 
exception to the generality, who, after they have passed the 
meridian of life "go out for an hour or two," and leave the 
most of it to the lads home for the "long vacation" or "the 
young 'un on leave." 

I know cases where the old keeper has had simply to supply 
the house season after season ; and, too indolent to do it in any 
other way, he has potted the majority of the covey as they 
" juked" in a cluster under the new ricks. 

In the old times the sport was excellent, I mean when you 
were dependent on good dogs for all you brought home, and un- 
less you were a sportsman, you came empty away. 

To succeed in the legitimate way you must be to the manor 
born, and possess most of the talents Beckford pronounces indis- 
pensable in a huntsman. 

Patience, perseverance, coolness, quiet, perception, all of these 
gifts were required to achieve success, and it took half a dozen 
seasons to make a finished sportsman. Now, all the wearied 
Londoner need do will be to bring his breechloader, his cartridges, 
his boots, gaiters, and knickerbockers, to walk in line and blaze 
away. 

The keeper will manoeuvre you over the piece of turnips or 
clover, and you need not even wait your dead birds or cripples, 
all the Metropolitan need give his mind to will be not to shoot 
friend or "beater." The rest is a matter of "condition." You 
need not give dogs the wind probably there are none on the 
manor save the keeper's retriever in a string, and you can keep 
your coveys off your neighbour's country. ' 

They began this system more than forty years ago, but it has 
become general during the last dozen years. Five and forty years 
ago " the Paper Hawk" was in common use " to accommodate 
the gluttons," many of whom desired to rival " Sir Charles 
Cnyler who, on the 1st of September, 1825, bagged, in two hours 
and thirty-five minutes, 103 partridges." 

Twelve or thirteen years before this, a man was a wonder who 
could shoot flying. 

Guns, too, were fabulously dear. Colonel Thornton mentions 
one of his as costing 400 guineas. This was in the time of the 
First Consul, who frequently gave as much as 800 guineas for a 
gun, when he desired to make a present to a foreign prince. It 



230 THE 1DSTONE PAPEES. 

is said that a pair of pistols from the Versailles manufactory 
would cost 400/. 

Old Joe Manton not uncommonly got 1 00 guineas for a double 
barrel, and I believe, old Westley Richards was the first man to 
make a thoroughly good article at about a fourth of the money. 
Nowadays you can get a plain, and I believe, a safe breech- 
loader for a ten pound note, I don't recommend these guns 
because I don't feel enough confidence in them to use them my- 
self, but many do use them and don't complain, but what would 
be a man's reflection, supposing he found his hand blown to 
pieces by the bursting of one of these bargains made by inferior 
workmen, ground down to the last farthing of wages, and harried 
in their work by the rapacity of middlemen. 

If you want sport use pointers or setters. If you are solicitous 
about your own eyes and limbs as well as those of your com- 
panions, use good tools which can't be sold at less than twenty or 
twenty-five guineas, buy Eley's blue cartridges ; and if you simply 
want birds or a walk, or exercise, or anything but sport, you may 
walk in a line and kill what gets up or miss it. 



III. HAEES. 

If harriers and greyhounds were extinct, I should heartily wish 
there were no hares to be found. They have frequently made the 
stitches of my shooting jacket "grin" when I have gone out for 
a quiet walk with a gun and a brace of dogs ; and very fre- 
quently they have imperilled the steadiness of a canine pupil, 
and given me occasion for extra vigilance and strictness for 
weeks to come. In fact, nothing bothers you like the hares ; 
and frequently we have left them to take their chance on a hot 
September day, hanging them on the forks of trees or hedges, 
preferring the chance of losing them to the trouble of carrying 
them about. 

Worst of all, in my opinion, they are not worth carriage ; nor 
are they presentable at the table except as soup. Tastes differ, 
however, and puss was a favourite with the Eoman epicures. 
The only part of the quadruped I could ever tolerate is a slice 
down the back ; but old Horace preferred the shoulders, and says, 

Fecundi leporiB, sapiens sectabitur armos ; 
whilst Martial declares her to be the best of all quadrupeds 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 231 

for the table ; but much he must have known of gastronomy, 
who gave it as his opinion that the thrush was the best of 
birds ! 

The laws of Moses and Mahomet forbid Jews and Moslems to 
touch the flesh of the hare ; the ancient Briton considered it an 
enervating diet, and eschewed it lest he should become timid 
and cowardly. Cato, however, declares that hare soup provokes 
peaceful slumbers, and Pliny states that to feed on hares for 
seven days in succession will make the victim " beautiful for 
ever," and prevent, I imagine, any occasion for Madame Eachel 
and her Arabian balm. Various properties are ascribed to the 
animal. The hind foot worn in the pocket is said to cure 
rheumatism. The only real use of it is, in my opinion, to paint 
the cheeks of the funny man before he " goes on," for which 
purpose he keeps it in a hole in the wall with his pot of 
rouge. It was considered capable of foretelling events by 
its course and other signs in the days of Boadicea, who, just 
before her last battle with the Eomans, let one escape from, 
her bosom. It took what her soldiers thought a lucky line, 
animated them with courage, and perhaps tended to their 
success. 

The chest of the hare is formed so as to give the lungs an 
abundance of play, and advocates of coursing argue from this 
that the hare was formed to be hunted ; whilst it would be more 
in accordance with fact to say that greyhounds, from the very 
earliest days of which any record remains, were bred and educated 
to catch the hare. In her form she can take in a large circle of 
observation, but she has difficulty in perceiving any motionless 
object straight before her. Thus, if a hare is approaching in a 
direct line, supposing that the sportsman remains perfectly still, 
she will almost to a certainty canter close to his feet, and offer a 
capital shot as she turns to the right or left. Her hearing is 
most acute, and as she flies over a down or fallow, with her 
ears laid back, she is sensible of the exact position of her 
pursuers. 

We had been talking of hares all one evening in November 
before the large peat fire of a friend's billiard room, and had 
searched Daniel's " Rural Sports" and many quaint old authors 
in the light of the large French " moderator" which lit the 
billiard table, and made all the salon as light as day. The 
truth was, we had assembled to discuss the first truffles of the 
season and a roasted turkey, and to arrange a party to kill down 



232 THE IDSTONE PAPEB8. 

the hares before the frost drove them from swedes to young 
wheat and grass, and injured the farmers considerably. 

We had killed a good many all the season. It had been a 
capital partridge year, and the hares were numerous also^two 
things which don't always go together. A couple of brace of 
birds don't fill a basket without a hare ; and sometimes we 
killed two or three hares to every brace of birds. Then, if we 
had to go down a long hedgerow to get the wind, it was a con- 
tinuation of sport to take up the pointers (which I always ran in 
leather collars and '' D" links), couple them, and try the ditches 
and hedges with clumbers as we go on. Many a straying 
pheasant we put back into the woods by this system, and many 
a partridge we got with the spaniels, which never came within 
the range of Major and Peter, who were as wary of a hedgerow 
as if it were made of " wait-a-bit" thorns. 

But, compared with what we found in the open at the first 
part of the season, the hedgerow hares were scanty. They 
seemed to enjoy a form in the short stubbles when the day was 
calm ; and perhaps in the extreme heat the shadow of the large, 
vigorous turnip leaves, where it was difficult to shoot them in 
the head ; or the rank mustard, in which they escaped fre- 
quently with impunity, unless we got a lucky snap shot as they 
vaulted over "the thick/' 

" Shoot all you can, sir," said old Bertie to me one of these 
delicious September mornings (as he, by my desire, was preparing 
to administer correction to one of the most resolute young setter 
bitches it was ever my good fortune to possess, and who persisted 
in following a hare for twenty or thirty yards in spite of the 
punishment which she knew must succeed) ; '' shoot all you can, 
sir, they are all witches, every one of 'em." 

I made no answer just then, for I don't like talking when dog- 
breaking and shooting are going on, but when we got to a fine old 
yew tree where luncheon was waiting for us in the shade, I 
called him up from the respectful distance at which he had 
posted himself with the keeper and the dogs, to ask him what he 
meant. 

There was no shyness about him, for he had always been 
used, as he said, " to talk to gentlemen," and as I furnished him 
with tobacco he filled his pipe, and at once gave me the informa- 
tion wanted. 

"As to their being witches or not," he said, "all I can say is, 
if ever I got into trouble it was a hare as done it. When I was 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 233 

quke a youngster, and work was very short at home, I remember 
going off to get a job for a few weeks, and, as I hated idleness, I 
thought I might as well try and catch a few of Squire Drax's 
hares. So I stayed at home one day and made a lot of wires, 
and borrowed my mother's maiden name (Summers it was) until 
I came back, in case I should be caught. It was the end of the 
harvest, and they had just begun to be busy thrashing, for the 
farmers said they were short of straw, but we all know what that 
means, and that many a farmer is short of other things at Mile- 
mass (Michaelmas). So I soon got a job where there was a lot of 
barley thrashing ; and as I was a stranger, and terrible strong, I 
took the straw away, and out of pride, like, carried about twice 
as much as any of 'em. The second day I was there the young 
squire came along and his keeper, and got talking to my new 
master about the hares, which it seems were rat her too thick just 
over the turnpike-road where the wide grass rides and the 
keeper's lodge and the fir plantations were. "Well, I thought I 
could shorten the stock for them. So, not that night, but the 
next, I went and set six wires in the fir copse, and I got five 
hares next day. It's always been my motto, a poacher will do 
best close to the keeper's house. There's most game there, and 
the keeper thinks no one will have the impudence to trap and wire 
close to his door. I waited a day or two and set more wires 
twelve or fourteen this time, and, as I did before, when the 
machine stopped for dinner, I sauntered up the hedgerow, and 
begun at the lower end. There was nothing in 'em until I came 
up to a large, thick old fir tree, and there she was all right and 
dead ; but as I took her out, I fancied the wire was very slack 
round her throat, and her head wasn't swelled a bit. However, 
I sets the wire again and was just getting up, when I heard some 
one in the tree sing out, ' Think it will do now, Mr. Summers ? ' 
and then I was caught. I was only fined, it's true, but I lost my 
place, and the lawyer charged me as much as I was ten days 
earning ; and all through a hare ! The same with a lurcher or a 
gate-net ; they gives that ghastly scream and startles watchers, 
and brings everything down upon you before you can pet out of 
the way, directly you drop upon 'em, if you don't look alive and 
break their necks. I recollect that Mr. Smith, as lived at Ted- 
worth, who never was afraid of nothing, used to say that the 
scream of a hare went through him just like a knife, and if ever 
you had seen him ride, as I have years agone, you d s;iy he 
wasn't squeamish." 



234 THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 

According to the old man's theory, hares made the "bonds " 
for faggots break, caused tipsy carters to fall from waggon shafts, 
and were at the bottom of all the evil in the parish, Whether or 
not, I knew they had broken up many a homestead, and I killed 
and always will kill them early very early in the season, for you 
get more of them, and you prevent all mischief, and, what is of 
equal importance, all grumbling. Indeed, no landlord can be 
guilty of greater cruelty and injustice than he perpetrates by 
keeping a stock of hares until the middle of January, when, if the 
weather is hard, they feed on agriculturists just as the Roman 
lamprey was fed on slaves. 

If the hares are well shot in Ihe partridge months, and sub- 
sequently hedgerows are beaten and shot also, the first brush 
through the coverts, what I may call the cock pheasant shooting, 
may be conducted without reference to ground game. You may 
have two lines of guns (one forward) with impunity ; and if you 
care to kill hares then, the first row of guns can kill them, 
provided they don't shoot back, or the guns posted at the end of 
the wood may kill them as they scour across the fields, for other 
oovorts. 

In hare shooting you require wide rides and open weather, as 
in frost you cannot fix the net stakes ; and when the shooting is 
deferred until late in the season, careful keepers take care to put 
their stakes ready in the ground two or three days before. You 
must then have the beaters pretty thick, and take care that they 
keep their sticks going and their tongues quiet. You must place 
good shots on the outside in the open, and men who will not, of 
course, shoot into covert or at hares in the hedges, or some of the 
parties may return home minus their usual complement of eyes. 
When you have experienced covert shots shooting together, they 
will know how to take advantage of the ground when to get 
forward to the bare places beneath a wide-spreading oak, for 
instance, or when to go twenty yards or more in advance of the 
beaters to where the dead fern is flattened by the snow and offers 
no obstacle to the gun. 

In all covert shooting it is desirable to wear dark or " pro- 
nounced " colours. Anything like grey or shepherd's plaid 
assimilates too closely with the stems of trees or old gateposts, 
and I once nearly became a victim to this invisible dress. In 
driving hares it is desirable, too, that the ground game should see 
you, as it is less likely to go back, and thus be left for breeding. 

The slaughter of hares is to me so uninteresting that I shall 



ON BEATINQ FOE GAME. 235 

not inflict the particulars of the day's sport upon the readers of 
the Field. It is redeemed from all idea of cruelty by the know- 
ledge that hares increase, and that they must be killed, and 
that every dead hare is so much saved for the agriculture of the 
country. 

One of the best sportsmen I know does as I advise all to do 
where there is no public coursing ; and as that is, I belivee, 
generally confined to open country, hares there do but little 
harm. He kills his hares close down in September, he well 
brushes his coverts for them the latter end of October, and then 
gives his tenants such an amount of coursing as he can spare and 
as they require, which is neither more nor less than they deserve 
for the care they take of his game ; and when he finishes his 
shooting, killing cocks and hens, he takes care to have the best 
covert shots, and no others, and kills what hares he wants. 

'' I lived with him once," said Bertie, " and we used to say to 
the head keeper. We must have good guns for mixed covert 
shooting, Windsor ' (that was the keeper's name) ; ' no London 
lawyers and parliamentary agents ; I'd as soon go out shooting 
with Esther Took ' (that was the squire's old nurse)." 

I will add one hint to those who desire to get up a good stock 
of hares. Let your keepers drive the clovers at dusk and send 
your hares into covert. They are safe for that night at all 
events. 



IV. PHEASANT SHOOTING. 

The system of shooting pheasants has been almost entirely 
changed since dealers have been allowed to sell game. The birds 
were neither bred in such profusion nor killed in such numbers 
in the old days ; and, if they had been so killed, our forefathers 
would have been puzzled to know what they should do with 
them. 

We used to begin pheasant shooting in October, and to find 
them occasionally with pointers and setters. Not that I at all 
countenance such a proceeding : it makes a setting dog hang to 
the hedge, for which fault no other excellence can atone, and it 
also teaches him to ' keep drawing," which is not like an artist. 

The land was not cultivated on scientific principles, anil any 
old postboy or coachman turned farmer. The hedgerows were 



236 



THE ID6TONE PAPERS. 



wide, the margins of the small inclosures deep in grass and 
weeds, forming admirable laying for every description of game, 
and there could be no more enjoyable sport than walking with a 
couple of clumbers broken to hunt, one on one side of the fence, 
the other on the other, and to furnish occupation for a pair of 
guns, or perhaps two pair, the additional pair by turns taking the 
outsides or going to the ends of the strips or thick boundaries of 
the fields. 

These days were not concluded with the vast bouquet of 
pheasants, some escaping to furnish sport for next year, others 
going off with their legs hanging down, and perhaps the majo- 
rity blown to fragments and falling a tangled mass of bones, 
blood, and feathers ; but there was the exercise, the talent of the 
dogs, the keen appetite, and far more excitement than we obtain 
under the present system. 

Battue shooting is the sport of wealthy men, and it would be 
better named " something to do " than sport. We must agree 
to an enormous outlay for a few hours' sport. I state deliberately 
that I have frequently formed one of a party where I believe the 
sport to have cost little less than one hundred pounds an hour. I 
put the outside value upon the pheasants when I say they were 
worth 40, the hares 12, the woodcocks 6, and rabbits there 
were none worth mentioning all of which game was given 
away. I have commenced shooting this large covert at half -past 
one or later in the day with some such results as those I name, 
and the staff of keepers, the barley, and various expenses were 
never met by the sum of GQOl. per annum, Occasionally the 
covert has been shot a second time, but not with equal results. 
This, however, would reduce the cost of the sport per hour by 
one half, and I am, I admit, putting an extreme case. I am 
alluding to a pheasant preserve on which no expense was spared, 
to give some notion of what these large bags cost. 

When the battue shall take place depends upon the will of the 
preserver of pheasants. The true friend to the foxhounds 
manages that his coverts shall be shot as early as possible that he 
may not interfere with " the noble science ;" others finish on 
February 1, without reference to fox-hunting, which possibly is 
not patronised in their vicinity. 

A moderate sportsman can manage to beat a small covert so 
that it shall form a part of the day's sport that is, to beat it 
with reference to several other small coverts ; but it is not every 
man who can manage a large pheasant preserve. This can be 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 237 

accomplished by a good sportsman and a man who is something 
more, and by no others. Many an excellent gamekeeper can 
rear and protect game, but he wants the skill to show it. He 
lets his pheasants run back, or he " flushes " them badly, or in 
the wrong place. 

I could name many men who possess the faculty of beating 
coverts (let me say of directing the beating) in an eminent degree, 
and I have heard, and I know, that the noble owner of Holkham 
is at the head of this class. 

You must have men well disciplined and well protected, and 
you must expel all babblers and skirters from the pack. If they 
are not well protected from thorns by long leggings, they not 
only will not go through them, but they cannot. Every man 
should have a white " slop." This protects his clothes and shows 
him to the guns ; besides which, the ground game see and move 
from him more readily than if he were in dark clothes. 

He ought also to have gloves and a stick. He must use his 
stick and not his tongue ; and on the silence of the beaters, the 
constant rattle of their sticks, and their keeping in line and not 
shirking " the thick," the success of the beating depends. The 
under keeper should be at one end of the line of beaters, and an 
intelligent man a night-watcher, for example, who knows the 
wood, or some one who comprehends the arrangements should 
be at the other. Frequently the under keeper is required to 
superintend the running of the nets, and then the beaters are 
left with a very inferior head or leader, unless the owner of the 
covert or some friend who knows the ground walks with the 
beaters at the end and keeps them in order. 

The head keeper has to " place the guns," and (according to 
John Leech, himself a good sportsman and unrivalled satirist) to 
order " two lords on the right, two more lords on the left, a 
couple more forward, and the commoners to walk with the 
beaters." 

Three or four men are required to carry the game ; they walk 
a few paces behind the beaters, bring the game out at the end of 
each strip, and consign it to the head keeper, who places it in a 
row, counts it, and consigns it to his cart in waiting just beyond 
sometimes not beyond the guns. 

Some head keepers (I am supposing the head keeper to be the 
general manager of the sport) place stops at the end of every 
important strip ; and if the strip faces the open, or is contiguous 
to an enemy's country, they should be so placed. This function 



238 THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 

is generally performed by an old ex-keeper, an invalid or a 
cripple, who keeps tapping the trees -with his stick as he walks to 
and fro ; and any small boy is equal to this situation, provided 
that a man is left to take care that he performs it ! 

In this battue shooting it is desired to drive the pheasants to a 
particular spot where they may be easily shot, and where an 
abattoir has been prepared from which they will rise a few at a 
time. This is managed in various ways. Sometimes the under- 
wood is cut and " splashed " down into a mass or mat about two 
feet high. Sometimes long fir poles are fixed horizontally at in- 
tervals, and fir branches are leant against them so as to form 
a sort of large tent, beneath which the birds will run. 

If you "go in" for this " sport/' a great deal depends 
upon the way the birds are flushed : and there is need of 
great experience to get them to the place and to put them 
up for slaughter when they have reached the shambles. 

Some men are indifferent as to the day's sport provided they 
get a good finish, which, by the way, often is put off until it is 
too dark to distinguish cocks from hens. 

When this good finish is desired, no nets are placed at the ends 
of the squares of covert into which the preserve is marked out, 
and numbers of birds and hares run on, never presenting a 
mark for the guns, which are posted in front of the beaters, 
and are shooting towards the advancing line. I need hardly say 
that when the beaters come near the guns, and rabbits are thick 
and pheasants fly low, or are shot by snap shots " directly they 
appear above the scrub or brushwood, I have frequently envied 
these men their position, especially when I have observed a little 
group around one or more of their body who owes his life to the 
thickness of his head, and is made fit to be shot at again by a 
half-crown and a pull at one of the gentlemen's flasks. It may 
be want of taste, but I confess that I consider no cock-fighting 
could have been equal to this especially when the gun that 
"potted" him is very severe with him for being "in the way 
when he pulled." 

There is always some danger from the jealous shots who shoot 
across each other, and, as it appears to the disinterested observer, 
shoot at each other. There is considerable amusement in con- 
templating the greedy shot trying for the best place, and endea- 
vouring to appear indifferent as he walks by the guns posted " by 
authority," which is not considered a polite thing to do. There 
is always one man or more who, in spite of warning or advice, 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 239 

runs on before the beaters, by which means he puts up game 
which no one is at hand to shoot, and escapes uninjured by a 
miracle. There is frequently the man with the last new thing 
in breech-loaders, which won't go off, or from which he can't 
get the cartridge, or which won't shut or won't open, or of which 
an important part breaks, or is left behind, or does not " act ;" 
and there is always the man who can put it to rights, and who 
probably breaks or bends a vital part of it, and beats a precipitate 
retreat. There is generally a victim or two to "converted guns." 
One of these I met not long ago, who appealed to me in doleful 
accents. " My gun," he said, " wont shoot, and the fellow charged 
me 15/. for doing it ; and now, when I complain, he says he can't 
help that he had done all he can to make it, and so I must put up 
with it. I have lost a good muzzle-loader, and I possess a bad 
breech-loader, and I am minus 15/." (By the way, I should 
like to see a class for converted guns at the next "Field trial.") 
Then there is the old man who wears "stick up" collars, and 
shoots with a single muzzle-loader, which he possibly lectures 
upon at lunch ; and there is sure to be the man with the new gun 
which "won't kill," the "swell," as the beaters call him, with 
his pair of Lang's or Purdey's, and his loader, who is a hybrid, 
being a gentleman with kitchen grammar, a valet, and a footman 
-all in one. The rest of the party is formed by the man who, 
having a reputation, and knowing it probably, misses all day 
long, to the delight, perhaps, of the next gun, who kills every 
time by a sort of " fluke." Yet we must not forget the class 
for whom this battue work is best fitted I mean the old and 
inert sportsman, who has not lost the love of sport, but possibly 
wants the power of locomotion. Consequently, he has his camp- 
stool at the end of the beat, and his shooting pony and Somerset 
saddle close at hand. I have seen an old earl, now no more, 
take the field like a boy (an old boy), with the fattest of all 
loaders carrying two guns, and a vast umbrella slung behind him, 
wrapped in an old shepherd's plaid cloak, which he left for 
twelve months on the floor of a Scotch cabin a year before. 
Poor dear old Earl ! He had been one of the very keenest and 
best of sportsmen in his day, but then he was in everybody's way, 
and grumbling at the younger men who were killing the birds of 
whose whereabouts the poor old octogenarian had but a vague idea. 
Now there is a great difference apparent as to the manner in 
which bnttucA are managed. One man does quietly and well what 
another fails to do with any number of "cursory remarks." 



240 THE IDSTOXE PAPEBS. 

Beaters can be managed by firmness and kindness, and they 
should be shown as clearly as possible where they have to go ; 
nor should they be hurried. In some situations, if they go fast 
they cannot drive the game. I do not think that, with the very 
best and most masterly beating, we ever see two head of game out 
of three in any covert. Hurry the men, and you don't see a 
quarter of it. Noise and clamour are destruction to all sport 
either in woodland or the open. Thus it is that one good gun 
alone, or two good guns, kill more in proportion than any larger 
number of guns combined. They come upon the game without 
being perceived. At the first roar of a beater's voice every hare 
is on the alert, and the old cock pheasants who have heard the 
heavenly voice before immediately begin to run, for the pheasant is 
quite as fond of his legs as his ivings. 

Occasionally, however, good " sport " may be obtained with- 
out gamekeepers, barley, vermin-trapping, or any of the expenses 
attendant upon battues. You may have a bouquet to order of 
cocks or hens, and all this independent of anything or everything 
but money. 

I remember a wealthy purple-faced millionaire taking a place 
in the country some years ago (at which place he soon drank him- 
self to death), and, as he had been invited to these festivals of 
pheasant slaughter, he determined that he would ask his friends 
in return. He had qualified himself for " sporting," as he called 
it, by purchasing Purdey guns in pairs, a duck punt and gun, 
about half a mile of netting, eight or ten brace of pointers, and a 
magnificent team of Clumber spaniels ; and of the way to use 
these guns, nets, and dogs he knew about as much as the hippo- 
potamus calf which perished the other day. He told me con- 
fidentially, however, that he had seen the thing done in the 
manufacturing districts, " Like confectioners furnish suppers, you 
know, they take back what is not coot " (cut). He explained 
that these gamedealers would take back the " dead 'uns," except 
such as were too much shot ; and these, he said, would make 
capital soup. Accordingly he had down about two hundred 
pheasants, mostly cocks, but with a sprinkling of hens, which the 
dealer told him " made it more like nature " in the same way, I 
imagine, as hairdressers faintly streak the wigs of old gentlemen 
with grey in order that their demands upon our credulity may 
not be too large and exhausting. 

The hampers or crates, each holding about a score of pheasants, 
were placed among the laurels at convenient distances, and into 



ON BEATING FOR GAME. 241 

these laurels none of the guns were allowed to enter. This was 
the preremptory code of my wealthy friend. 

I forget whether the Clumbers were used, or whether beaters 
aided in the deception (I was not there myself), but I heard it 
spoken of as magnificent sport, for whenever a hamper was 
opened there was a capital rise ; and as good open spaces were 
selected, few birds had a chance. Many, of course, were blown 
to bits, and these were a dead loss ; but every bird clean killed 
except a few for presents took three or four shillings off the 
cost price. 

But the grand affair of all was to come at the last moment 
the bouquet ! As described to me, it took place in an enormous 
bed of rhododendrons, and well in view of the bow windows of 
the drawing-room, within which Mrs. Millionaire and her friends 
were stationed to enjoy the spectacle. The butler had been sent 
down to superintend this feu de joie of pheasants ; but, alas ! he 
had not calculated on one fact. The bouquet pheasants came 
from a different dealer, who had fastened his hampers with wire ; 
so "Bottles" had to fetch his champagne nippers; and whilst 
that plethoric individual was toddling to and fro, the guns 
were all waiting for the captives to be set free and shot at 
for " sport." 

A keeper who was there, when alluding to this scene some two 
or three years after it occurred, concluded in these words : 
" Sir, you never see such a thing in yer life." I devoutly hope 
I never may ! 



V. WILD FOWL. 

Going to look for wild fowl has a peculiar charm for me ; and 
the harder the weather, the darker the night, the better I like it. 
Whether widgeon, teal, mallard, pochard, scoter, shoveller, or 
smew, the bird is so thoroughly wild, so absolutely distinct from 
the tame-bred bird, that I stalk the flock or wait the flight witli 
feelings as different to what I entertain at a battue as those which 
actuate the buffalo hunter of the prairie or the butcher's 
slaughterman. 

Many an evening late on in the summer, possibly just before 
the annual migration of pointers, setters, and retrievers by the 
Great Northern, I have followed the windings of a deep river, 



242 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

whilst my black spaniel or my young Clumber has beaten the 
sedges in a quiet way, and put up the young flappers one by one. 
I remember once overcoming the difficulty I had with a young 
bitch of the same family as Mr. Price's Bruce, by constantly 
taking her to beat these river sides. I never saw one so averse 
to water, and the example of my black dog, who preferred swim- 
ming to walking, seemed to have no effect upon her timidity. 
However, I persevered, and one warm evening I cut down a couple 
of flappers, right and left. The black dog got the dead one, 
whilst the Clumber watched him nervously on the bank, and then 
he tried to overtake the cripple, which was swimming in a 
circle and beating the water with one wing. However, when he 
did reach the bird he could do nothing with him, and I tried to 
silently encourage the young Clumber to go in. My second 
attempt was successful, and, to my surprise, she swam well, not 
beating the water with her fore feet, nor making much fuss about 
it ; and when she had fetched that bird she took to water, and 
gave me no more anxiety about retrieving from it. 

We cannot all go to Norway, nor could we all catch a salmon 
if we did ; and before the grouse shooting comes it is pleasant to 
have an opportunity of trying a new gun or a fresh retriever. 
Flapper shooting enables us to test both, and perhaps a strong 
old mallard going right away and killed handsomely at fifty or 
sixty yards is as satisfactory a proof of a gun's performance as 
any man could desire. 

When this sport has come to an end, I have often waited 
between dark and light, in that soft twilight which all along the 
southern coast is known as " ducMsh," for the nights of young 
ducks going " stubbling." 

Perhaps, as I rode along the lonely road, skirted on one side by 
a heath, which is to all appearance boundless, and on the other 
skirted by the sea, I have heard something whistle over my 
head like a charge of shot, and far beyond the range of the best 
Lang, Purdey, or Westley Richards ever made. I have seen a 
skein of ducks sailing away in a straight line for my neighbour's 
barley or mine. Poor innocents ! they scarcely noticed me as 
they sailed over the road, and occasioned my black Labrador to 
assume that morgue expression as he wistfully looked over his 
shoulder at their retreating phalanx. 

Well I mark their line by some conspicuous mound in the 
purple outline that shows out against the clear pale yellow of the 
setting sun, and I note the time to a minute. Next evening I 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 243 

unchain my black retriever, throw my leg over the brown cob, 
sling my gun, and, leaving my nag tied to the most convenient 
gate or fir-tree, post myself where I can best conceal myself in 
their last night's line. 

As the exact minute approaches I begin to feel almost nervous, 
and wonder if my watch has been performing any of the freaks 
which make teeth and watches alike abominations without 
which we cannot, however, get on in life. Within five minutes 
of their time ! Surely it was not so dark last night ; and now 
time drags as slowly as though I were lolling with assumed in- 
difference in the dentist's "uneasy easy chair," whilst behind my 
back that skilful operator selected a brighter and more hideous 
"Clewdon stump forceps " than heretofore. 

How the minutes drag ! And yet I cannot learn patience from 
Sam, who, curled up well out of sight, with his nose close to his 
hock, "knows the game " well, and calls to mind, no doubt t his 
experiences a year ago. After a time I look again ; one minute 
it seems an age and I shake off the suspicion that perhaps I 
have a bad cartridge which won't go off, and I have barely time 
to assure myself that both barrels are at the full cock, when I 
see a pale lavender-coloured line rapidly enlarging, bearing down 
for my ambush, and, drawing up my feet, I prepare to spring to 
my legs and give them the body of the charge, and a second shot 
during their momentary confusion. In less time than it takes to 
print off these words I have put this design into execution, and I 
hear simultaneously three, four, five ominous thuds amongst the 
heather. Sam, who has raised his head, looks at me with a 
wistful glance, which says in plain language to me, "All right, 
Idstone," and at a mute signal, as I load again, he lies down at 
full length, with his head between his paws. 

The exploded cartridges have not done smoking when the 
second school appears. These laggards, however, fly rather wide 
of me, and I have to run pretty well ten yards. My dog creeps on 
to me, and is observed by some of them, and just as I pull they 
are mounting higher, so with both barrels I get but one, and he 
flutters in his fall, and pitches on his head two hundred yards 
away. 

All that I have described does not take two minutes, and I 
take Sam by the collar and lead him back to his first " form " 
and reason with him two minutes more. Then I send him for 
one duck after another, and he brings me four of the first lot, the 
fifth I cannot find. He waits patiently, and once I make sura 

B2 



244 THE IDSTONE PAPEB8. 

Sam has him. I see him standing at a bush, and his tail 
stiff. " Go in and get him, foolish." But he makes a plunge 
in vain, and when he comes back to me there is nothing in his 
mouth. 

I saunter to about the place where I think the last duck fell, 
and after Sam has trotted about in the slush and ooze, and smelt 
many a tuft and mound, he stops suddenly by an old alder root, 
and I hear that he picks up something, which proves to be a 
mallard. 

I then go to the cob, which I have left tied to the gate, 
and find him none the worse, except that he has got the bridle 
rein over his leg, and that he has pawed the earth all round him 
with impatience, and I pick my way through the track in 
the fir wood for home. Sam stops before I have got twenty 
yards on this dark path, and when I snap my finger he goes into 
the bush and dark brown water on my right, where I heard him 
panting keenly, and evidently busy on a scent. 

It gets rapidly darker now that the sun is down, and as I know 
well the unpleasantness of blundering over the fir-tree roots, I 
am half inclined to call him in. Before I can do this I hear the 
grating quack, quack, of the fifth duck which fell to my first shot, 
and Sam brings him in triumph to my saddle girth. 

Watching and timing the flights, I have had many and many 
an evening of this sport, which, though it lasts but one or two 
minutes, has its attractions for me, especially when two or three 
of us post ourselves, perhaps a quarter of a mile apart, on good 
points or pieces of rising ground in the "flight's line," and have 
a blaze at the birds one after another. You may get another shot 
at them of course just before sunrise, as they return for the sea ; 
but although I have done it successfully, I do not think it so 
pleasant or convenient as the dusk of evening. 

A hard frost-bound winter, such a one as comes but seldom, 
brings ducks and waders of all kinds in profusion. Wild geese, 
black ducks, pintails, smews, shovellers, mergansers, shieldrakes, 
golden eyes, mallards, pochards, teal, widgeon all these were 
to be seen some of them in profusion when the soldiers were 
in the Crimea. 

I remember one bitter night the snow was nearly a foot deep, 
and crisp and dry with intense frost. We had been out snipe 
shooting all day, and had been much perplexed by the lameness 
of my setter bitch and the retriever also, for balls of ice had 
formed upon their feet between their toes, and the setter had 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 245 

gallopped sometimes in agony, stopping to bite her feet, to my 
surprise, for at first I could not make it out, and when I did I was 
in doubt whether to cut the fur off her feet or not, but I did it 
and it answered. As we drove home, with a dog on the foot- 
board to keep our feet warm, I observed the wild fowl making out 
for sea and some coming inland in shoals ; and as we passed a 
little frozen pool, the teal were sitting on the ice as thick as 
sparrows at a barn door. As we passed they rose, swung over 
us and before us, and made for the ground again, and I made up 
my mind to drive round by a large piece of water, of which I had 
the shooting, and to make my observations. 

When I got to the margin and was peeping over, listening to 
the incessant clatter of these fowl, just on the move for the night, 
I observed a white head rising from the furze to my right, where 
a rise in the ground gave the best facility for observation, and I 
recognised old Bertie, who was also taking an observation. As 
we drew off together I observed that he was accompanied by a 
stealthy, clever-looking, smooth black bitch, thicker set than a 
large pointer, with small ears, and eyes and head very like a seal, 
but by no means "a gentleman's dog," as he himself observed in 
anticipation of any deprecatory remarks from me. "However," 
as he observed, " you musn't take her by her looks, nor gentle- 
men neither. I was once taken in that way," he added, as I sig- 
nalled him to get up behind, where he stood up, and receiving 
encouragement from me, continued his story, for I thought his 
tale would shorten the road. 

" I was a groom once," he said, " and my master sent me over 
to an old lord's who lived about ten mile off. So I took the 
note. It was from our young ladies to their young ladies, and I 
went into the stable to wait, and there I saw an old man, with 
shaggy eyebrows, sitting on the cornbin by himself. As I 
thought the young horse would be none the worse for a feed of 
corn, I asked the old boy to give me a bit. ' Help yourself,' he 
said, as he got up rather ill-humouredly. So I fed the horse, and 
he sat down again ; and says he, quite sharp, ' Whose servant are 
you ? ' ' My master's,' says I, ' and I should say I have got a 
better place than you have, judging by your clothes.' Well, he 
got up and looked at me, and just then in came a swell servant 
with a note, and the old man says, ' take this young follow into 
the hall and give him some beer.' ' Yes, my lord,' says the 
flunkey. ' And,' says the marquis, for it was him, ' Don't you 
judge by appearances again, young fellow. I've got the best 



246 THE IDSTONE PAPEB6. 

place in the 'establishment.' I touched my hat, and begged his 
pardon, but the servant pulled me by the sleeve, and I was glad 
to get away from that ' establishment,' I can tell you. sir. 

"Now," said he, in continuation, "this dog came from 'the 
land ' (Newfoundland), and if she gets into a hole on the ice she 
can get out, and, you know, sir, very few can. She belongs to 
the old Decoyman, and I thought if (he said this with a very 
knowing look) you would get up to-niorrow before light, and 
have a shot at the ducks, she would be very useful." 

" You call ine in the morning, Bertie," said I, " and I'll go." 

" That," said the old man, " is easy done : " and by this time 
we had arrived at my stable gates. 

" I wish you good night, sir," said Bertie, as he turned for 
home. " Come on, Diver ! I'll throw a charge of shot at your 
window, sir ! " 

Dead beat ! This is a feeling I have seldom experienced, but 
this night the wood fire and peat upon the top. the white table- 
cloth, the armchairs, the "kidney table," the bright lamps, the 
fragrant soup, the good companions now, alas ! two of them are 
dead and gone all these failed to give their wonted pleasure after 
our weary walk, and I believe we all envied the red-and-white 
setter when she walked in and "flopped" down on the rug. 
But what dinner did not do, tea did, and after we had rested in 
the easy chairs, and smoked some of a naval friend's cavendish, 
we thought bed superfluous. However, we all " turned in," and 
then I could not go to sleep. I got some short naps, in which 
the setter bitch was constantly " setting " before my eyes, and 
in the longest of these I heard the ominous shower of grape 
against my window. It was hard work to rise, I was stiff as a 
ramrod, but I managed to crawl out of bed. where, by the light 
of a Palmer's safety candle, I looked rather uncertainly at my 
bath. However, that refreshed me, and I was soon downstairs, 
where my friends had preceded me, and after a cup of hot 
coffee we lit our pipes and climbed into the German waggon ! 

This took us to within half a mile of the pond, which was 
about a hundred acres of water, all frozen over except a small 
patch. There was no sound to be heard, nor could we have 
found our way except by the help of a small lanthorn, which we 
carried in case it should be required. 

Bertie placed two of us full length upon the ice behind some 
rushes, having first with his hook cut a goodish bed of them for 
us to lie upon, and then he proceeded to place the other two guns. 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 247 

All these events took place in absolute silence, and we were left in 
the darkness alone, Bertie telling us our position, and bidding us 
to be sure and fire when we could see the line of water black 
with them. 

In what seemed a sea of ink before us we could now and then 
hear a moorhen scuttle through the water, or an old mallard 
quack two or three times as though suspicious, and once I 
imagined I heard the otter "blow" and drop into the flood of 
unfrozen water. Just as I could hardly tell whether it were 
darker or lighter, there was the quick whistle of wings, and a 
duck, as it seemed to me, fell like a cricket ball into the water 
just before me ; another, and still more, then a good flock, all 
striking the water like bricks thrown from an eminence, and then 
began the morning ablutions the ducking and quacking of the 
whole brood. Then came the teal whistling round four or five 
times, now close to our heads, then off suspiciously and beyond the 
fir trees, now gradually looming dark ; and now I could just see the 
silver of their under wings. At last, in they go, and I can faintly 
discern the water black. It is no metaphor black with'wild fowl. 

I touch my companion and he touches me. Even this move- 
ment awakes suspicion, and as I push forward niy big Westley 
Richards, loaded with green cartridges, and my friend gets his 
splendid Lang into position, I see a little uneasiness in the flock. 
One, two, three (in whispers). Bang go the left hand barrels, 
and we both give them the right as they rise, cutting two lanes 
through them ; and at the instant they get the cross fire of two 
Purdey's placed to our left. We load and fire at the teal as they 
whistle over, and now we get, perhaps, one or two stray ducks, but 
most are off to sea. As the light breaks we see the water thick 
with dead, lying on their backs most of them, and some to all 
appearance alive, but with their heads in the water. " Come on 
with Diver, Bertie ! " 

"Look at them, look at them !" said my companion, in a loud 
whisper, for, although I hardly raised my voice beyond its ordi- 
nary pitch, my appeal to Bertie for the black Labrador caused a 
flutter of wild fowl (teal especially) from the sedge, rushes, and 
little islands of dead reeds, and I had another opportunity of 
observing the pernicious effects of the human voice on game of 
all kinds. 

If you want to signal anyone, use some other sign a bird call, 
such as a lark whistle, or a pigeon call, which I know could be 
got at Tunbridge Wells, and which I think can be procured at 



248 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

Davis's, the saddler, in Piccadilly. It is rather a cumbrous thing, 
being about 2^in. in diameter, and about 3in. long. 

I once knew a gamekeeper who could " do the woodpecker" to 
perfection, and I have already noticed in The Field that some men 
can and do signal to each other by mimicking the owl. 

My exclamation in this case did little or no harm, for the teal 
whirled over us and gave us one or two famous " pot" shots 
directly, and as we instinctively stood back to back we could 
inform each other, as they swung like so many winged Leotards, 
now over the large fir trees and out of sight, presently half a 
mile away, and before they dropped whirling in front of us and 
turning up their wings with the precision of a flying brigade. 
If they are within range, that is the time to give it them, 
and the crack duck shots of America do most execution at that 
instant. 

There was no reply from Bertie, and I was too "warry" a bird 
to repeat my indiscretion ; indeed, there was no immediate hurry. 

As we stood well concealed in the bullrushes and hanging 
alders, we could scarcely have been better placed, and all we 
wanted was exercise, for although the excitement of this grand 
morning's sport had perhaps accelerated one's circulation, now 
that we had only a shot at intervals of tune we began to feel the 
chilly morning air. 

Excitement makes us forget pain, and for the time removes it. 
I had a personal proof of this once, as I waited on one of 
the Thames bridges the coming of the Oxford and Cambridge 
crews. A punctured wound in the wrist from a blunt screw- 
driver had kept me awake two or three nights, and the pain was 
increased by the keen, fresh, cutting draught of air which swept 
down the river. But this throbbing ceased when two dark specks, 
accompanied by a silent yet moving crowd, appeared in sight, and 
as I watched the dark and light blues forging up the river with 
that solemn, steady, determined, regular swing, all pain vanished, 
nor did it return until the boats, to all appearance locked 
together, had rounded the bend, and after a few minutes' interval 
the name of the winner had been passed along the shore. 

Before I could think of a plan for noticing the duck and teal 
amongst which we had made such havoc, or signal old Bertie, the 
day broke and clearly revealed our exact position. 

To my right were alders, their stems deeply embedded in the 
frozen waters and almost within reach of my hand. All round 
me were the pale dead yellow rushes, breast high, and hassocks 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 249 

of grass standing a foot out of water, possibly a yard apart. The 
hard, smooth, black ice is below me, and, with the exception of the 
patch of bright water to which the ducks had pitched, all the 
water was hard bound with frost and more or less covered with 
snow. Black spots in the distance gradually 'revealed themselves 
with the coming light as wild fowl, which had fallen after a 
short flight ; and when the sun shone out full before me I saw 
the winding brook the outlet of the pond black compared with 
the snow-covered meadows in which it lost itself, and the teal 
hovering over it like swarms of bees. 

As I was looking at the beautiful forms the snow had taken, 
and calh'ng my companion's attention to a network of ice over an 
old bramble, which interfered with a little stream of water as it 
had run over the bank, I saw a movement in the sedges, and 
presently the black head of Diver, who was steadily hunting up 
the margin of the ice, and lashing her tail with that "sword exer- 
cise" movement ivhich I must have in pointer, setter, or retriever ; 
at the same moment old Bertie pushed through the bed of osiers 
with a mallard and a "pintail" in his hand. "This one (he 
said) fell close to me, sir (at the same time he held up the ' pin- 
tail '), and the mallard, I saw him drop five hundred yards off ; 
so I took the dog and put her on, and I should think she was a 
quarter of an hour getting him. When you called she was so hot 
on the scent I could not bear to call her off, and I've left her now 
on a teal. There are lots "down" on the heath, and a good 
many will be lost, for they runs like lapwings. Now (he con- 
tinued), if you thought well to go and walk among the rushes all 
round the pond, I could try and get these out with Diver, and I 
dare say you will get some cripples, and you are sure of more 
teal ; that we do know. Hullaw, Diver ! " As he said this, the 
decoyman's retriever pushed through the sedges with a male 
teal in her mouth alive, and looked up for further instruc- 
tions. 

" Let us see her get one out of the water, and get on the ice again, 
Bertie," I said ; and it seemed to me that this cunning, smooth 
Newfoundland understood what I wished, or perhaps she observed 
the direction of my glance, for she carefully stepped from one 
hassock to another, and at last was slipping and sliding on the ice. 
When she got to the unfrozen water she ran all round it two or 
three times, and at last dropped in where the sedge and peaty 
earth made it comparatively easy to get out again, and. having 
secured a duck, tried hard to bring two at once ; however, she gave 



250 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

that up, and having put the first bird upon the ice, went back for 
a second, without leaving the water. 

To all appearance she forgot the good place for getting out again, 
and was a considerable time trying, the current drawing her hind 
legs under the ice, so that I began to think Bertie had overrated 
her powers. " Let her alone, sir," said the old man, touching 
his hat in reply to my opinion, " she won't be drowned ; you 
might as well try to 'stiffle' a otter;" and, as though to corro- 
borate this flattering notice of her, the bitch dropped into the 
water and tried the ice on the opposite side, where the current 
carried her hind legs from the ice instead of under it, and was out 
with the duck in about the time it takes to record her dexterity. 
She then tried hard to bring both birds at once, but gave it up, 
and returned with them singly ; not very fast, it is true, for, except 
when she trotted stiffly, she could make little way, and was, as 
Bertie called it, " all of a sprawl." 

Next time she went in at the same place as before, where 
getting out was easy, and she did not again attempt to bring two 
at once, or to get out upon the ice, always going to the place 
where the water joined the peat mould and hassock. 

When she had brought out ten or a dozen, I recollected that 
there was an old Poole duck punt, decked fore and aft, at the end 
of the pond, and I begged Bertie not to let her go in again, for 
it would be easy to get the rest with a cripple net which I had 
at home, and to collect the other birds upon the ice by pushing 
the boat up on the top of it ; and after consideration he thought 
it would be as well. We therefore picked our way to the 
firm ground again, where I was glad to see a boy with my two 
companions holding my black spaniel and a clumber, which some 
of my friends at home had, with good forethought, sent down 
in case they should be required. Two of us had to go at least 
half a mile round to get to the other side of a long sedgy " lake," 
as they called a strip of marshy land with a deep brook still 
running in the middle of it, and marshy, deceitful swamp on 
both sides of it now safe enough, for it was hard as an oak 
plank. Whilst we waited for them to get round with the clumber, 
leaving us the " darkie," I noticed two kingfishers shoot the arch 
of the bridge on the parapet of which I sat, and which divided 
the long lake from the frozen pond. Now and then there was 
the faint sound in the distance of the heavy shoulder guns which 
the punt-shooters were discharging at their cripples and the 
"scuds" of teal at sea. I had heard their stancheon guns to 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 251 

the south-east and west of us just after we fired our first shots 
before daybreak. Diver had coiled herself up at Old Bertie's feet, 
apparently asleep, comfortable although wet, and gave an occa- 
sional shiver. 

The bright sunlight, although it gave but little heat, made this 
situation endurable until I heard that faint whistle which was to 
be the signal for us to move, and which immediately aroused Diver 
and dispersed her dreams. As though to show us the necessity 
of prudence, even this cue was the means of startling one or two 
ducks which had pitched into the long rushes up the vale, and a 
duck and mallard came right for us, but when about seventy 
yards off, whipped over the fir trees and were hidden. A few 
seconds and they appeared again over our heads, but now far out 
of range of any shot gun, and this they evidently knew. 

Nothing learns the range like wild fowl. An old cock phea- 
sant is 'cute enough, but he never seems to know whether I can 
knock him over or no^. I have often felt convinced that, " a 
rocketter " believed himself perfectly secure as he sailed over my 
head, and that he was never more sold in his life than when up 
went his tail and down fell his head, and he came crashing 
through the branches like a bag of shot. 

Wild fowl, ducks especially, soon learn the range of the long 
guns, and, as it seems, transmit that knowledge to their offspring 
at least so the old gunners tell me ; and it is a tradition that 
Hawker, " the Colonel " they call him, never made such practice 
as he did the first year that he shot his oval charge. However, 
this is another digression ; but I can't control my pen with a 
curb and chifney, and it would be dangerous to do it unless I had 
better hands. 

If Bellerophon had given Pegasus his head, he would never 
have got that nasty "purl." 

As soon as we got the signal from the other side, we started 
to try the deep covert, and the Clumber bitch almost trod upon a 
shieldrake. He flew right for me, and I shot, as I always do, for 
the head, when he turned, but my eye was attracted bv that 
broad band of orange which contrasts so exquisitely with the 
white plumage, and I don't think I touched a feather. The next 
bird was a pochard, which got two barrels from the other side, 
and was pretty well riddled too, and then a black duck and a 
shoveller (female) got up together. The shoveller got off, but 
the Clumber I saw jumping through the reeds with the black 
duck in her mouth. 



252 THE EDSTONE PAPERS. 

Farther on the water had sunk in from the ice, which was no 
thicker than a penny piece, and the noise it made in breaking 
was a great hindrance to our sport, as it put up the fowl a long 
way out of shot. I saw a beautiful tufted duck and two mer- 
gansers escape us in this way, and when we got nearer together, 
and hoped to be on better terms with the teal again, we were so 
puzzled and weary as we stumbled along, that I was almost dis- 
posed to try back and give up that beat ; but as my companions, 
though excessively polite, would not hear of anything but going 
on, I had no alternative but to follow the course of the stream. 
A little further on, the walking, though tiring, could be effected 
without noise, for we came upon dry ground and dead fern. 
Here, from beneath an old pollard oak growing from the bank, 
and from the top of which, as it falls aslant the brook, I have 
often dropped to the other side of the trout stream, up sprang a 
couple of ducks. The mallard fell thump upon the bank, and 
the black spaniel fetched it, while, as I thought, the duck fell 
also, but although I hunted everywhere with the spaniels, find 
her I could not. So we loaded and went on, Bertie, by my direc- 
tions, remaining behind to beat with Diver, and promising to 
join us at "the mill." 

When we left him we fell in with some widgeon, and my black 
spaniel was very busy round a large thorn bush close to a deep 
trout hole, and would not leave it. When I came up I saw a 
duck sitting quietly by the very brink of the water, and at the 
same moment my dog observed her also ; before I could lift her 
the duck and dog were in the stream, and dived together, and he 
came up with her in his mouth. I therefore signalled Bertie, 
who had, however, some idea that we had got the bird, and he 
and Driver came on. 

One of my companions, and a good shot too. gave unmistakable 
signs of knocking up, and called to Bertie to take his gun, " for," 
said he, "I can't kill the birds, and I'm getting tired of it." I 
may add that since firing into the brown of them at the first rise, 
according to his own account, he had done nothing, and so Bertie, 
delighted, went to take his gun. " You had better shoot, Bertie, 
if anything comes your way." "All right, sir," he said, as he 
struck a light for me before we started to cross by the old pol- 
lard. " I remember once a lawyer came down to shoot at the 
ducks here, two guns and all regular, and he had a little chap to 
load for him named Billy Baker, who, when he was sober, never 
missed, 'specially ducks, for he and his father got a living at it. 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 253 

So the lawyer says, ' You shoot nest, Billy.' ' All right,' says 
Billy, who was half sprung, with a confidential wink to the 
gentleman , whom he never see afore that morning. ' You 
stick to me, little lawyer, and you'll soon have a " bred " (bird) in 
your pocket.' " 

Before we got far away Diver hit upon something, and old 
Bertie, who heartily enjoyed seeing a dog work, forgot ;.ll about 
the gun. "That's he, Diver," said the old keeper, as he stooped 
and pulled aside the sedges to help the retriever, who was stand- 
ing stiff and all alert in a piece of dead fern, and presently 
jumped once or twice, all her feet off the ground at once, and 
then ran round a tangled mass of fern and brambles. Something 
moved and arrested the attention of Bertie, and at his signal in 
she went ; up got a mallard, and sailed away ; hard hit, how- 
ever, and before he could reach the fir wood on the right we saw 
him " lower." " I think I know where he is," said Bertie ; " we'll 
take the bitch and try," and as we finished that bit (which led 
us to the turnpike) without further incident or adventure, he and 
Diver disappeared. As we clambered up the bank and stood 
looking at the milldam on the other side, we saw him coming 
to meet us down the road, with the retriever behind him, carry- 
ing the mallard in her mouth. 

" Got un," said Bertie, touching his hat with that look of fun 
about him, which he could no more control than his natural in- 
clination, unfortunately, for beer. " Got un, sir, our old squire 
used to say, was the best word in the English language. I 
think," he added, " this Diver wouldn't be a bad one to buy, 
and I believe the old decoyman would sell her ; he has another 
coming on." 

"Well." I said, "perhaps she would not do for my work after 
all " (I confess I had not much doubt she would, though). 

"I don't know why she shouldn't, sir," he continued. "Of 
course you know best ; it puts me in mind " 

" Stop, Bertie." I said, " who is for going on ? " All thought 
we had done enough, and as we were going out to an evening 
party, so agreed to stop, and thought we might as well go home. 

" Now then, Bertie," I said, " let's know what Diver puts you 
in mind of? " 

"Well, sir, I think she would do all her retrieving just as well 
as she does for ducks. I heard a story once of an exciseman as 
used to take too much in Staffordshire perhaps you have heard 
it before and once he and his wife fell out, and to mend matters 



254 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

he went and got quite stupid and went to sleep. Some of the 
colliers as was on the ' night turn,' as they calls it, thought it 
would be a good joke to take him down the pit ; so they puts 
him in the thing they goes down in, and takes him down. Well, 
he slept all their turn, and they went up and forgot all about 
him ; and when the next lot went down, one of thei&, as black as 
my hat, give him a shove and woke him up, and says, ' Hullo ! 
who are you ? ' Well, when he rubbed his eyes and saw the dark 
place he was in, and this here black standing there with the 
candle, his teeth began to chatter, and he thought he was dead 
and buried ; so he touches his hat quite civil, and he says, ' If 
you please, Mr. Devil, I was an exciseman upon earth, but now 
I will do any light job you'll please to set me.' " 

" I suppose, sir, I'd need to go and see to picking up all the 
rest of them cripples on the ice.'' 

" All right, Bertie, we will go home. Call round at the decoy- 
man's and tell him to come and see me, if he will sell the bitch ; 
and say I should like to come and see his decoy. I hear it's the 
best in England. I heard something of his taking 300 worth 
of duck in one year." 

"I'll give your message, sir," said Bertie, as he disappeared 
over the bank, " and I'll bring you word to-morrow morning. 
But " and then he hesitated. 

"Well, Bertie, but what ? " 

"Well, sir, I was going to say the decoy man is terrible 
jealous. He won't tell you nothing. He got took-in the other 
day, though. A gentleman as had been all his life in the navy 
came into a swinging good property and sent for him. Well, off 
he goes with his son, thinking he should leave the son to make 
a new decoy. The gentleman asked him to show him a thing or 
two, but he would hardly say a word. At last the gentleman 
says to him, ' Well, my man, how many pipes must I have to the 
pond ? ' The old decoyman looked at him out of the corner of 
his eyes, and tapped his forehead with his forefinger, and, says he, 
' A sealed book, sir ; a sealed book.' Well, the gentleman took 
It very easy. As they walked home he smoked his cigar a little 
faster, but he never said a word more about the decoy business 
till he got to his hall door, and then he pulled a ten pound note 
out of his pocket and says to his butler, ' Take this to your mis- 
tress and ask her to send me a five, and seal up the rest. The 
five is for your railway fare, my man,' he said, ' but we will seal 
up the other. Good morning.' The decoyman didn't say a word 



ON BEATING FOR GAME. 255 

at first, but as he turned away he said, ' If I'd a known this I'd 
have acted different ! ' ' 

" That is the morality of others besides decoymen, Bertie. Let 
us know what ducks you pick up." 

He touched his hat and took a short cut through the planta- 
tions, that he might, as he called it, " save the light," and Diver, 
after a moment's hesitation, followed him as we turned for 
home. 

The thick clouds and the general stillness seemed to foretell 
more snow ; the wind was piercing cold as we faced it and turned 
for home, and we all felt 'glad to gather round the logs, before 
which we found breakfast had been spread about six hours in 
anticipation of our return, whilst the unopened post-bag gave the 
whole of us the notion that we had been dreaming, and that the 
clock had either stopped, or, as one of our number (well known as 
a handicapper) observed, had been making the running " hands 
down," for it was twenty minutes after three when the hour and 
minute hand assumed some such position. 



VI. A BYE DAY WITH THE GUN. 

My next interview with old Bertie, I am sorry to say, was by no 
means satisfactory. I mentioned in my paper on duck shoot- 
ing that we left off early, to have a few hours' rest before 
we started for one of those evening parties popularly known as 
" at homes," which, like picnics, are fated to take place in in- 
clement weather. We proposed to start about ten o'clock, and 
at a quarter to that hour the carriage lamps were burning, and 
the coach-house doors wide open a plan adopted frequently to 
apprise the villagers that the coast is clear, and " master's a-going 
out. I saw this as I pulled aside the staircase window curtains, 
and the light blazed full upon old Bertie's back, loaded up with 
mallard's the green of whose necks shone like emeralds. I could 
discover no more than that he was in very earnest conversation 
with the keeper, emphasising his remarks with much animation 
and solemnity. I had not reached the bottom of the last flight 
when I met one of the maid-servants, who, half-concealing her 



256 THE IDBTONE PAPERS. 

features with the corner of her apron, told me that " the old man 
was come with the ducks, and he wouldn't go away until he had 
seen me." 

The real facts of the case never struck me until I reached the 
back door, and, looking towards the coach-house, up the path 
which had been cleared of snow, I saw old Bertie standing very 
much " over at knee," his hat on OHC side of his head, whilst a 
dishevelled look about his hair, a peculiar heaviness in the eyelids, 
and a tendency to balance himself upon his heels, betrayed his 
condition at once. I was not quick enough to shut the door 
and decline an interview, for before I saw him I believe he 
saw me, and staggering up towards me with the ducks upon his 
back, assured me, with a sort of solemn drollery, that he was not 
" tight ; nothing of the sort," the last part of which sentence he 
contrived to run into one word. 

I have always thought command of countenance to be quite as 
great a gift as command of language, and I felt that all the 
household (by whom such a spectacle is regarded as a farce which 
they can see for nothing) were waiting to take their cue from me. 
When, however, he had reached me by a few most cautious steps, 
closely resembling "the outside edge" upon the ice, and, after 
balancing himself for an instant, fell down backwards in a heap 
of snow, remarking that it was " mild weather for the time of 
year, and we should soon be expecting the ' vilats ' " (violets), I 
signalled my keeper to take the ducks, which were frozen as hard 
as logs of wood, and see the old man home. 

I turned into the house in anything but a good humour, and 
observed a dark frown upon the faces of the cook and housemaids, 
which I felt was a reflection of my own cheerful- countenance. 
The coachman, who came out at the moment with the " off-side 
'oss," scowled at poor Bertie (who was making efforts to rise, 
which very much resembled a fly in treacle) like a sober Pharisee, 
which indeed he was. 

Before I reached the "at home," I had recovered my equili- 
brium, and, as one of my companions remarked, a child might 
have played with me. I had been questioning myself whether I 
had not treated old Bertie with too much familiarity, and 
whether he was taking advantage of my doing so. Looking 
back now, when he has long, poor fellow ! been nothing but a 
few bones, I cannot lay any such charge at my own door, and I 
believe that my acquaintance with him was the means of pre- 
venting him from, indulging in a vice which, long before I met 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 257 

with him, laid the foundation of that disease which shortened 
his days. 

It is not always easy to provide shooting at the fag end of the 
season, though you can always manage a walk and a little dog 
manipulation, which I prefer ; and as my two friends were en- 
joying the dancing, which is beyond my ability, unless I have 
some one always at hand to "catch my horse/' I was wondering 
what I should do with the solitary friend who stayed another 
day with me ! I was talking in the glowing heat of the hall 
stove to a country rector a nervous man I recollect he was. with 
a bald head, over which he trained and bandolined a few 
straggling hairs when we were joined by one of our neighbours, 
who unconsciously broke in upon some plan of the divine's for 
the taking of Sebastopool, which was there and then lost to the 
world at once. 

A man this of many amusements, a tenth part of which I 
cannot at this distance of time call to mind. First he occupied 
himself with a Holtzapffel or Evans lathe (I forget which), by the 
aid of which he was always making something new and decidedly 
ingenious. Having a little spare time left, he '' went in " for 
photography, and travelled the country in a cart or van, having a 
dark room and all convenient. He broke out next with dissol- 
ving views and a magic lantern photographing his own slides 
and painting his own scenes with such success that the lady's 
maid had fits, and only one man (the pad groom, unmarried) 
could hold her. He had passed then through the microscope 
stage, and had proved a valuable client to Beck and Beck. His 
bells rang by electricity ; one scuttle of coals a day warmed the 
mansion ; an hydraulic ram raised water for the fountains ; Veitch 
had no better conservatory ; and his peach-houses ruled the prices 
of Covent Garden. The best of everything was good enough for 
him, and nothing short of it ; and without seeming to have 
anvthing to do, he looked to everything himself. Go to any 
place of amusement croquet, archery, picnics, coursing, shoot- 
ing, the assizes or county sessions there he was ; tall, dark, 
well-bearded, and at home. A mutual friend once made a bet, 
as he took his children to the Pantheon, that he would not be 
there ; but, singular to say, there he was. Having just purchased 
a piping bullfinch, he was engaged in dealing for the blue macaw ! 

"You," he said, touching the rectors waistcoat button with 
hi* forefinger, "you don't shoot? A good thing, or you would 
very likely kill somebody." And then, turning to me, he con- 



258 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

tinued : " I've got a new gun, and I'm going to try it tomorrow. 
A rough day. You have a friend with you ? All the better, so 
that he does not pot us ; and if you have a good spaniel, bring 
him. We can shoot something in the turnips ; then I want to 
try the heath, and, if we have time, I want to dig a badger. 
There is one in the chalk pit, and do bring old Bertie to drive him, 
home in a string. I want to see that." 

I explained the " excited " condition in which I had left my 
old friend, but accepted the suggestion that I should have him in 
and talk to him, and eventually, if his health permitted, bring 
him in a penitent state to assist in the amusements of the 
morrow. I felt bound to take him, as, if I worked my liver-and- 
white spaniel, he could make him downcharge, having a 
wonderful and mysterious power over dogs, which seems a gift to 
an occasional poacher, keeper, or shepherd, and one they appear 
to be able to exercise no one knows how, and least of all them- 
selves. I witnessed this gift in Lord Poltimore's huntsman, 
Evans, who in the kennel (I never saw him out of it) seemed to 
influence hounds and direct them without word or signal ; and I 
know a shepherd who never strikes a dog or seems to take much 
notice of it, but who never has a bad one, and at the present 
moment possesses a sort of colley which will push the lambs 
along with her head, or shove them out of the hedge sides with 
her nose, with all the care and tenderness of a "Nightingale" 
nurse. 

The morning after the ball was dull and foggy ; but before we 
had finished breakfast we could see the circle of the sun ; not 
bright, it is true, but like a disc of white paper ; and before we 
could start he had broken out through the mist, and on the south 
side of the house the snow was melting into " ice candles," which 
festooned our gables. Long before this I was left with but one 
companion ; the rest had dressed by candle-light, and caught the 
early train. 

I had sent for Bertie, who did not wait for my messenger, but 
had been loitering about ever since eight or nine o'clock ; and we 
had him in. and gave him a severe lecture upon his love for beer. 
Eeceiving those promises of reformation which are older than the 
Mendip Hills, we gave him absolution and his breakfast, and 
started for my neighbour's manor, telling him to bring Denny 
the terrier, and the spaniel. Late in the year as it was, and the 
scent indifferent. I tried to beg off the turnip beating, but with 
no avail ; so we had a leisurely stroll through them with Bob, 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 259 

under the presidency of Bertie. I had all the season made him 
lead this young spaniel whenever we went shooting, and down 
charge him to every gun ; and we had let him range a few times, 
or hunt for us even amongst hares and rabbits. He was one of 
those dogs which combine use with beauty. Perhaps for thick 
covert he would have been more serviceable with shorter ears, 
but in all other respects he was perfect. A long body, short, 
large legs and close feet, the Clumber head and style of work, 
mute, patient, and thrusting, he was such a dog as I should keep 
if the laws of the country forbade me to have more than one. 
He was a good retriever, nearly all white, with a few spots of 
liver. I did not breed him, but bought him young, and I have 
been fortunate enough to never entirely lose the breed. He 
" entered " naturally, and. though active and bustling, he dropped 
very soon to rabbits, and ranged close. In a hedgerow he was 
perfection, and he only failed in one point he hated water from 
first to last. 

This morning we had a saunter through the swedes, and some 
very pretty shooting. I think we got four brace of birds, a hare or 
two, and up the hedgerows we killed a pheasant and flushed a 
" cock." He made straight for the covert we were going to, and 
had been boring in a warm spring. There were but four beats in 
this wood, and they were small ones, so I had a good opportunity 
of noticing whether Bob, the spaniel, would take liberties in 
covert. I rejoice to say that, except attempting to chase a hare, 
which offence Bertie met red-handed (I never beat a dog myself), 
we got on very well. Just after this I heard the whirl of a cock 
as he tried to get up and free himself from the hazels, and I saw 
him jerk himself behind a dark spruce fir tree. Directly after 
I heard a gun "snick," or miss fire, and the next instant there 
followed what perhaps was the second barrel. As I was ' going 
on with the beaters" in the thick, I waited until I heard some 
one shout " All right !" and I was struck at seeing Bob running 
round a fir tree, as I have seen a young retriever before now 
watch a squirrel. 

' There's the bird," said old Bertie, who had been particularly 
subdued. Without raising his voice, he pointed to a branch about 
four feet from the ground, and holding Bob up he let him lift it 
from the branch in which it was entangled, then taking it from 
his mouth caressed him for his 'cuteness and observation. " \Vhoo- 
whoop I " said Bertie, as he broke off the legs of the bird and drovr 
the tendons. 

82 



260 THE IDSTOXE PAPERS. 

Just as we got to the end, and had given up the woodcock to 
my tall friend, who was in high feather at having killed it with 
his new gun, I shot a hare which had jumped the fence and was 
making for the open, and at my desire Bertie sent the spaniel 
after it. " Stay at this end, please," said the master of the cere- 
monies ; " we shall drive this piece to you. and I am cold standing 
about." 

As the beaters went to the further end. Bob came dragging the 
hare to us, and whilst Bertie took it from him he said, " We call 
these ' Jack Fancy's deer.' Jack Fancy stuttered a good deal, and 
was a terrible fellow to poach, but you couldn't catch him out, 
and he had liberty to shoot on a little heath farm, having got it 
entered in his writings in this way. Just before the lease was 
granted he met the young squire and his lawyer, and said, in his 
hesitating way, ' One thing I do want, if you please, zur : if a 
hare comes into my garden or ground, may I "pot un ?" ' Yes/ 
the lawyer said, ' there is no harm in that.' ' Then,' said John, 
putting his finger on the lease where there was a vacant space, 
'Will you write down there " pot un ?" 

I see no objection myself to letting tenants shoot rabbits from 
the 1st of February to the 12th of August. If they are worth 
keeping as tenants they will do no harm with a gun then, but a great 
deal of good, and they might ferret many months in the season, 
too ; but traps are ticklish things, especially amongst the vixens. 

The last beat was not successful. We got one cock pheasant ; 
we let the hens go ; and perhaps five or sis hares went out, but 
only three were killed. 

We now crossed the moor after lunching under the hedge, and 
were very soon partially blinded with fog and drizzle, in the midst 
of which I heard a golden plover whistle, and saw one jump up 
and settle again right ahead. I have never found a good way of 
getting at these birds, which seem to spring from the earth as 
Bedouins arise in the desert. Many a time I have seen them 
high up sailing away, in the form of their bodies like so many 
sparrow-hawks, but of course easily distinguished from them in 
their flight, and after marking them down and stalking them 
they have baffled me at last. 

I have done best on a pony, and have sometimes got as near 
as I dared, and running up to them have given them both barrels 
as they rose. I never had any luck with them, and on this 
occasion I think we got but two, and four or five full snipes, which 
lay well in the reedy bottoms close to the river. 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 261 

Our snipe shooting disturbed the first and nearest part of this 
wide stream, now happily preserved for salmon ; but when we had 
passed the old white mill, with its overshot wheel now being con- 
verted into the best form I mean the " breast shot," to be 
followed by its destruction altogether, and the substitution of 
steam we dropped into some pretty wild-fowl shooting, and 
killed, amongst other birds, the golden eye and an Egyptian 
goose. As old Bertie was hooking this bird off the frozen margin 
of the river (the bird had fallen on its back), he pointed to the 
horseshoe on its breast, and said, 

" I declare the gentleman has shot one of the squire's tame 
geese ! It's as bad as young Trencher did. Our squire turned 
two kangaroos into his park, and one of 'em got away, and they 
shot him in the next manor, about the last shot before they left 
off. Well, they never see such a thing before, and sent it to be 
stuffed. The lawyer as shot him (a family lawyer they called 
him ; he's got the whole property to manage now, and makes the 
gentleman an allowance), he thought it was a cross between a 
rat and a roebuck. However, they had it stuffed, and our squire, 
as it belonged to, went to law about it." 

We got a good many teal after this, and then, turning over an 
old bridge, climbed a hill and were close to a chalk embankment, 
which looked like an old fortification, as indeed it was. We met 
here with the labourers who were digging at the badger's earth, 
and also the rest of the game, for we had made a half circle, 
and were close to the little covert where Bob found the wood- 
cock in the fir tree. The two men who were digging stopped 
when we came up, and at once recognised old Bertie, who 
as an earthstopper was well known, and also knew every- 
body. 

"Just try with Denny," said the most intelligent of them. 
"Let's see how far off he is." 

" Oh, not far," said Bertie, without approaching the hole. "I 
can tell without the dog, or yet putting in my arm," he added 
with a sly look. " I could hear him ' snoffle ' when you moved 
the spade." and taking the spade in his hand he dug " up hill." 
(The hole was on the side of a sort of chalk mound.) He had 
opened the earth a good deal, when a white-toothed urchin said 
with a broad grin, " I thought I heard him querk " a provincial 
expression denoting fear on the part of the creature pursued or 
unkennelled ; and just after we saw some dun or grey mass move 
beyond the spade. 



262 THE IDSTONE PAPEES. 

"Clap the spade against the hole," said one of the men 
standing by. 

"Nonsense! " said Bertie, as he fumbled in his pockets for a 
small line, adding " I wish one of you would go and cut me a 
' rice ' " (the name given by covert beaters to a long taper stick) ; 
then, making a slip knot at the end of his tether, he caught up 
Denny, and showed the badger to him. 

Master Denny contemplated him in silence, merely struggling 
to free himself from Bertie's arms ; and as soon as the badger 
showed his head, which he had been hiding like the ostrich, old 
Bertie loosed him. He went in without hesitation. With dog 
or man, this is half the battle ; and Bertie, catching the dog by 
the hind legs, drew dog and badger clear. 

"I would have let him enjoy hisself a bit," said Bertie," only 
it's getting late ; " so he watched his opportunity, then lifted the 
badger by the tail, meanwhile holding him at arm's length. 
" Now, then," he said to a young feDow who stood by, " slip 
the noose over his hock, and draw it tight. That's right," he 
continued, as he got Denny off, and dropped the animal close to 
the leg of a soft-looking young man, and after dragging his prize 
a little way from the hole, took the long stick or rice in his hand, 
and drove the badger in front of him with far less trouble than 
lie would have driven a pig. Touching his hat to my friend, on 
whose manor the badger had been dug, he said, " I suppose you 
don't mean to bait 'un, sir ? " 

" Well, being a county magistrate, and expected to act as an 
example, I rather think not ! " 

" If I did," said one of the bystanders, " I should break his 
teeth first. That's what they does in London, and then, when 
gentlemen tries their dogs, they thinks how game they are." 

" Ay," said Bertie, " most dogs will go at a badger in a 
tub, but they don't like calling on 'em at home. A badger 's a 
harmless thing enough. I think it was Evans (now Lord Fitz- 
william's keeper) had two which would run up his arm when they 
were young. He sold 'em to a travelling showman." 

"I suppose, sir," he said to my friend, as he guided the badger 
up the avenue, "you won't beat any more to night?" 

" Not any more to-night, Bertie, nor this year. We will put 
that badger in the large covert, now we have finished ' beating 
for game.' " 



OX BEATING FOE GAME. 263 

VII DRIVING DEEE. 

Since the days of Nimrod hunting has been the occupation of 
man. He has had recourse to every expedient in order to obtain 
a supply of food, destroy noxious animals, or possess himself of 
creatures either useful to him when domesticated, or valuable on 
account of 'their producing fur, feathers, or even supposed 
curative medicinal qualities ; and he has attained his superiority 
over them in the progressive stages of civilisation by various 
means. The weapons of every savage tribe (the arrow and bow) 
differ nothing from those used by Esau, eighteen hundred years 
before the Christian era. Occasionally either the natural pitfall, 
or a cautious encircling of the vast group or herd, has been 
adopted, and numbers have been wantonly driven down a pre- 
cipice, after the fashion employed by the North American Indians. 
The artificial pitfall was used solely for the destruction of beasts 
of prey, but the net was in common use more than fifteen hun- 
dred years before Christ. 

It is doubtful whether we have reliable information as to 
hunting by the aid of dogs of more ancient date than the 
" Cynegetics" of Xenophon or Arrian. Even in Xenophon's 
prime and manhood he had discovered that " this noble science" 
increased the health, strengthened the sight and hearing, and 
protracted the approach of old age ; whilst the encouragement 
given to all his officers by Wellington, in the Peninsula, to follow 
his hounds when they could, told them more plainly than words 
that he considered the pursuit of the fox an excellent apprentice- 
ship for war. 

Falconry, alike the sport and the system of the Persian and 
ancient Briton, required but the rousing of the game, and it 
is impossible to form any notion of the antiquity of the pursuit. 
Probably it is coeval with the use of the hound or dog. At any 
rate, the beating for falconry was the mere flushing or rousing it ; 
and the hawker's chief desire would be a find on an open and 
unenclosed country. 

In later days, and as civilisation increased, the pursuit of game 
was developed as a system or science ; and the line of beaters 
drove coverts ages ago for the Celestials, somewhat in the manner 
adopted at the present time by the pToprietors of large pheasant 
coverts. A close observation of wild animals leads us to the 
conclusion that the human race imitate them in their chase 
and pursuit of each other to a great extent, and that the weasel, 



264 THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 

the hawk, and almost all birds and beasts of prey have their 
allotted hunting grounds on manors, driving off intruders upon 
their manorial rights with the activity and malevolence of 
Christians. 

After an experience of more than twenty-two centuries, man- 
kind has seen no reason for disputing the truth of Xenophon's 
assertion as to the health-inspiring, invigorating effect of hunting 
the beast of the forest (which is true woodcraft, hunting, or 
venerie), or to repudiate his notion and sentiment as to the effect 
field hunting or the chase produces upon the mind and body. 

"Hunting" is the term applied to the hart (or red deer of 
mature age), the hind, the hare, the boar, or the wolf. By " the 
chase" we mean the pursuit of the buck, the doe (that is. fallow 
deer), the fox, the marten, or the roe. Other means are adopted 
for bringing wild animals to hand besides the net or pitfall. 
These are the " stalking" or creeping up to deer, until we are 
near enough to serve the rifle ; and waiting or lying in ambush 
for the different waders until they " pitch" into their feeding 
ground, or water left " bright" or unfrozen in the depth of winter. 

Driving the deer is a sport within the reach of few sportsmen. 
It creates a panic and confusion in the very largest forests, is a 
system seldom adopted, and probably never would be adopted but 
for the charm of excitement, and the fete it gives rise to in the 
hunter's home. The owner of the large domain and of un- 
numbered wild acres has probably collected beneath his roof a 
number of hard working men devoted to the government of this 
great country, to letters, arts, or commerce, men who have 
thrown aside the cares of state, or have determined to forget the 
frowns of critics or the heavy balance sheet, as a duty they owe 
to the state or their own families. They require some distrac- 
tion, and to be taken away from themselves and their cares. 
Perhaps they have lost their relish for the daily walk with 
pointers over hill and moor, or they may be jaded with the con- 
strained posture and the hard physical exertion of protracted 
"stalks " after royal harts " a stalk " meaning the serpent-like 
following of a forester for hours. The drive is a very different 
affair. 

The preparations are interesting, especially interesting to the 
novice. He witnesses a great deal of activity, as unintelligible to 
him as the rapid motions of a ship's crew appear to the unlucky 
landsman who stands by his nautical friend on the quarter-deck 
in a gale of wind a position I never desire to occupy again. 



ON BEATIXG FOE GAME. 265 

The apprentice to deer driving finds himself thoroughly ignored, 
sent to Coventry, and expatriated, if he makes his way into the 
courtyard or attempts to overhear, still less to comprehend, the 
Gaelic vociferously uttered by the leading spirits of the chase. 
The whole establishment is grouped in little knots of conspirators. 
The very billiard-room is full of " consultators." The keenest 
glances are directed at the slightest clouds ; the barometer is 
surrounded by "clients," and the various staircases display as 
large an amount of hurrying to and fro as a metropolitan bridge 
at noon. Next morning (if his window looks that way) he has a 
half-conscious, half-dreamy recollection that he was awoke long 
before sunrise by the tramp of many feet. He heard the beaters 
leave for their several stations to begin the drive miles away ; 
and. at the solemn breakfast, he is conscious of an unwonted 
silence and stillness in the courts and rooms. He is shortly on 
his way to an ambuscade behind some rock or secure hiding- 
place, where he will be left alone for hours. He will receive the 
most stringent commands from the head forester who places him 
in the pass, with his rifles convenient to his hand, and some 
provision for his creature comforts, that he is on no account to 
show himself under any possible condition before the deer have 
passed, and that until he is fetched from his retreat he is " just 
to bide quiet and load again if he can." 

Meanwhile the army of beaters has not been idle. Under the 
direction of several experienced chiefs, they have managed to get 
to the farther side of the stags, and have commenced the difficult 
task of driving them gently with the wind, a process at direct 
variance with their instincts. Sometimes the greatest skill and 
prudence are required. Occasionally one individual forester, in a 
critical position, must merely let the deer have his wind ; at 
another time he must boldly show himself. Now he must turn 
them with his voice, and frequently he must hide himself from 
their keen vision with the speed of lightning. He must change 
his tactics according to his best judgment and experience, He 
must be quick to understand the position of affairs, and he needs 
a considerable amount of patience, courage, and endurance. It 
is not easy to collect together a number of men calculated to 
drive the deer down the passes in which the rifles are posted, or 
to command success when you depend upon the scientific con- 
traction of a circle. 

At a battue of hares and pheasants, with coverts netted in 
quarters, and under keepers to maintain the line and restrain the 



266 THE IDSTONE PAPEBS. 

tongues of the beaters, and to insist upon a perpetual rattle of 
sticks against the hazels or young trees, you may put up with 
the frozen-out gardener, the hodsman. stable helper, boy in the 
garden, or the blinking watchman, who has not seen sunlight 
through his lodge window for weeks of winter. All the odd men 
of the place may be called into requisition for the simple purpose 
of driving a wood, provided the men are formed into line in the 
right place, and managed upon a proper system. In fact, success 
does not depend upon them ; but in driving it is frequently a 
matter of individual skill. One ''jack-daw amongst the rooks" 
may overthrow the most artistic arrangements, and "mull" the 
whole day's sport irrecoverably, for driven deer are not to be out- 
generalled a second tune: they do not forget the manoeuvres of 
the human race for weeks, and before they are to be " had " the 
whole household will have emigrated to the metropolis for 
that year. 

There is some danger of alarm being given to the deer from 
want of caution on the part of those men who have the hounds 
in the leash. A struggling deerhound, or a youngster giving 
tongue, or showing an inclination to "riot," as it is termed, 
would scare every head of venison from the rifles, and when the 
herd are seized with panic they will not be turned by an}- body 
of drivers. Occasionally this instantaneous fright seems to run 
through them all, communicated probably by some signal from 
the leader, for reasons we cannot fathom; then no expedient 
will keep them within bounds. I have observed this fact in large 
parks containing both red and fallow deer, and under these cir- 
cumstances no human power can turn them. 

In English parks the owners have resorted to various expe- 
dients for driving them within a netted inclosure ; and one 
English squire, as good a hand with deer and as fearless amongst 
them as any forester of the north, has resorted to the expedient 
of riding out the buck and shooting him when he is wearied 
down. When, however, it is necessary to confine the whole herd 
of fallow deer, no means appear to us so efficacious as the 
moderate use of a clever old shepherd dog, and a few intelligent 
labourers with poles and little flags. 

I am not aware that the dog has ever been called into requisi- 
tion for driving on the larger scale, or whether he would be of 
any use with herds of the dun deer among the wilds of Scotland, 
nor can I guess whether it would be successful ; but I think it 
would be quite worth while to make trial of a skilful, temperate, 



ON BEATING FOB GAME. 267 

well-broken colly for that purpose, and that he might be made an 
excellent coadjutor to the men, provided he were well in hand, 
obedient to signal or whistle, and possessed of that surpassing 
intelligence, and showing that implicit obedience, for which he is 
conspicuous and celebrated. A patient, well-disposed, good 
tempered sheep-dog is capable of understanding and appreciating 
the motions and intentions of a herd of deer almost as well as a 
Scotch forester, and we have some grave suspicious that a few 
dogs might be found whose movements would show that they 
developed their talents with great rapidity, or that they had been 
previously connected with the business. I know I am com- 
paring great things with small, but I repeat I have seen a sheep- 
dog do wonders with a large herd of fallow deer and about eighty 
red deer, in a very large park, a great many times ; and I should 
not have believed it possible unless I had personally witnessed 
the sagacity and intelligence of the dog, and the gentle control 
and influence he exercised over the herd. 

After all, it does not appear to me a more extraordinary feat 
than the coaxing an old crafty mallard into a decoy tunnel by a 
trained spaniel, or the intelligence of the '' Sau-finder " in 
Saxony. 



VIII. THE END OF THE SEASON. 

Bertie and the badger had scarcely disappeared, when we 
walked up the bank which overlooked the river, and saw the 
fanner, whose own land and house stood on the other side, 
crossing in his boat. Six feet two and about seventeen stone, he 
carried in his hand a double-barrelled nine-gauge gun, which 
weighed quite nine pounds, but which in his grasp seemed a 
handy little gun enough. 

" I heard you shoot two or three times," he said, as his man 
put him across the stream, " and I thought through my parlour 
would be a short cut for you, so I have told them to mull some 
claret, and take the chill off the beer for the men." 

It was quite useless to contend against this frank and genial 
invitation, so, without any pretence to apologise, we stepped into 
his boat and crossed with him. 

On the other bank his garden wall was built in the stream, and 
we entered up three or four stone steps and through an iron gate, 



268 THE 1DSTONE PAPERS. 

above which projected the bay windows of an old ivy-covered 
fishing-house, built on the wall, and commanding from the side 
lights a view of the wide stream on both sides for miles. Thence 
our new friend at least, my new friend led us up the gravel 
walks of an old garden, the walls of which were covered with 
trees admirably trained, then up a terrace and into the old 
Grange, for so it was, remarking, as he ushered us into the old- 
fashioned hall, that it had been in his family for centuries, and, 
so far as he knew, never had been mortgaged, 

"That old spear head," he continued, in reply to some remark 
from me, " one of my ancestors, or what you please to call them, 
carried when he went with Queen Elizabeth to Tilbury;" and, 
throwing open the door of the large but rather dark dining-room, 
he added, " here is what you don't see very often a set of 
Apostles' spoons, dug up in the days of my grandfather, in the 
old moat." 

On the table, most likely coeval with the house, we found an 
old peg tankard of spiced wine and several long glasses, and it 
needed some resolution to resist the warm invitation of our host 
to sit down before the beech-log fire and make ourselves at home- 
However, we got off at last, and after seeing the dovecote at the 
back an old circular stone building, not unlike a large limekiln, 
round which flocks of blue rocks were sitting, preparatory for the 
night we went up the avenue of beeches leading to the road, 
and made for my friend's house. This we reached just before 
dusk, in the bright moonlight, and had an hour to spare before 
what my neighbour called an early dinner I mean half -past six. 

That hour before dinner is a pleasant time after a hard day's 
work ; you have a sense of independence, and can take your time 
Plenty of hot water, a good fire, and dressing by degrees after 
hunting or shooting, is, a refreshing process, and when you 
gave the last fillip to your hair (if you have any), you feel as 
if you had just mounted your second horse. 

The first bell (electric) was ringing as I experienced this sensa- 
tion, and when I opened the door I saw old Bertie below me in 
the hall, with a hamper, surrounded by the drawing-room estab- 
lishment, to whom at my friend's request he was exhibiting the 
badger, whilst a footman with scarlet plushes and the approved 
balustrade legs stood at a respectful distance. 

Poor Bertie had somehow lost his way, and had been rather 
baffled by the obstinacy of his prisoner, which, as he explained 
to me, " turned unked," or contradictory, and he thought, he 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 269 

said, as he wiped his forehead, he had been " a matter of three 
miles round." 

" Poor man," said the wife of my host ; ' if I were not afraid 
it would hurt you I would give you a glass of beer." 

" Thank you, ma'am, I'm sure," said Bertie, touching his 
forehead with his finger, and with a droll look of humour in his 
eyes, which always showed something was coming ; " If you will 
only be so kind as to give it me, I'll risk that." At the same 
time he opened the hamper as unceremoniously as though it 
contained a tribe of puppies, and showed his captive to the 
assembled company. 

At this moment the second bell rang, and we went in to 
dinner ; but before they left I saw several slip coins of the realm 
into Bertie's hand, and I must say I dreaded the consequences, 
and not without reason, for I thought his resolutions to be sober 
were by no means strong. There was no chance of his being 
able to have more than what the butler thought good for him, 
as he had received a hint from me, and I thought no more of 
him until, at about ten or half-past ten, we prepared to leave ; 
then I noticed that the old man was slightly flushed in the face, 
and exceedingly clever with the bags containing our shooting 
gear and guns, all of which he had piled so as to inconvenience 
the driver (meaning me) as much as possible. However, we 
remedied this and started, when his hat fell off and he " barked" 
his leg, as he called it, against the steps of the waggonette in 
getting up. 

We got home without any adventure beyond those I have 
mentioned, and the old man had departed, when, allured by a 
bright fire and two easy chairs, my friend and I sat down to talk 
over the events of the day, and indulge in the pernicious habit 
of smoking as a preparatory measure for a night's rest. We had 
got upon the usual topics dogs and horses and did not notice 
that it was nearly one o'clock, when the hall bell rang sharply, 
and my friend observed that he thought he had heard the sound 
of wheels. 

" Don't hurry," he said (he was the most deliberate man I 
ever knew), let them ring again : perhaps we re dreaming." I 
prepared to go and ascertain who this new comer could be; 
meanwhile my opposite neighbour began to speculate. " I 
shouldn t wonder," ho said, speaking very slowly. ' if my grand- 
mother is dead. When I came away the homieopathists had got 
her in tow to finish what the water-cure people began." And now 



270 THE IDSTONE PAPEE8. 

there was an unquestionable ring again, quite a peal, followed by 
the blast of a post-horn or some such instrument execrably badly 
blown. 

When we opened the hall door the mystery was solved. 
There was a pile of luggage at the entrance, a large gun case, a 
bag, a portmanteau, all of which had been thrown down in that 
apparent haste and recklessness which I have observed in case of 
fire, and when I looked at the high-wheeled bright red and black 
dog cart, to which was attached a vicious-looking rakish chesnut, 
I knew who my friend was before I caught sight of his glowing 
red face and peculiarly ugly hat, which might have over- 
shadowed the brows of the late Mr. Thomas Sayers. When I 
add that the moon's pale light revealed a very large body clad 
in a double-stitched overcoat of the old four-in-hand cut, and a 
white kerseymere shawl with a scarlet spot here and there, and 
that this large, long body was supported by a pair of very small 
legs which a feather-weight might have envied, I have completed 
the picture. The figure which thus loomed upon me I had 
known ever since my schooldays. Now, however, increased in 
width if not in wisdom, I saw the old companion whose delight 
it used to be to illustrate the margin of his Latin verses with 
horses and hounds, and who now enjoyed nothing so much as 
dropping on his friends from the clouds. 

"Have you got room for me?" was his first greeting; "if 
not, the chestnut has ten miles left in him, though he has come 
forty miles to-day, and I never should have found you, living as 
you do among these cross roads, for I have passed the house, 
only I met this old fellow staggering out of the public-house half 
seas over," pointing meanwhile to Bertie, who was rocking on 
his heels as usual, and holding on by the point of the shaft. 

" All right," I said, " come in Frank ; " and having knocked 
up a groom, who tumbled out so quickly that as he lit his stable 
lantern he seemed in a dream, I left the wonderful chesnut to his 
care, and began to consider how I must amuse this comer. 

" I haven't," I said, as we together helped to get in his luggage, 
in which Bertie assisted with tipsy alacrity I haven't any shoot- 
ing worth speaking of." 

" Yesh you have, sir," interposed Bertie, "rabbits! " 

"Now, my good fellow," I said, "go home. This is what you 
call leaving off drinking." 

"Tapering off, sir," he replied, "tapering off. I couldn't 
leave off at once ; the doctor said it wouldn't do." Then 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 271 

wishing me good night tie blundered through the door, aud after 
looking up at the moon as though it were a new constellation 
which he had never seen before, and shaking his head as though 
grieving over the errors of mankind, he staggered up the road. 

When a man slowly unwinds the scarf about his neck at one 
o'clock in the morning and looks round for something to eat, it 
does not say much for the night's rest of those upon whom he 
makes his swoop, unless he is most carefully handled. I there- 
fore showed him the larder door and plate rack, initiated him 
into the mysteries of the staircase, chalked a cross on his bed- 
room door, and after finishing our pipes, retired, leaving him to 
contemplate his slippers before the fire. 

Next morning the usual scene of penitence and promises took 
place on Bertie's part, his plea being that he was not intoxicated, 
only fresh ; for he was such a philosopher in drunkenness that he 
divided the stages of imbecility with the precision of a stage 
coachman. 

" I don't mean to say I was not sprung, sir, he said, " but there, 
I knowed what I was saying ; I hadn't got my crooked stockings 
on." 

"Well, Bertie, don't let me catch you in that condition 
again." 

"No, sir," he replied, "I won't ; " adding (without altering a 
muscle of his face) " I didn't mean you to catch me yesterday 
leastways this morning. If I go round and get some dogs from 
the people of the village, and two or three boys, do you think, 
sir, these gentlemen would like to have some rabbitting ? There's 
the large wood all ferreted, the keeper has just told me so." 
They assented, and having turned the conversation, he hurried off 
to do what he could. 

In about an hour, before we had done with the letters and 
arranged a few other matters, he came back with a medley of 
dogs and half a score of ragged urchins, glad of a job in this 
hard weather, and the prospect of bread and cheese and beer. 
A strange pack of dogs it was. Mongrels of low degree, but 
some of them possessed of that marvellous intelligence which, in 
dog or man, is not always inseparable from blood and breo : ing. 
Most of them, from obvious reasons, had a dash of greyhound 
about them, although remote ; and Bertie accounted for it from a 
dog of very high caste having been years ago given away by a 
sporting clergyman to one of his fraternity who was not over- 
ridden with brains. 



272 THE EDSTONE PAPEE8. 

" You see, sir/' he said, " old Billy Butler was a terrible man 
for a good greyhound, and he threw a shoe just close to this T ere 
soft 'uris house when hunting, and so he stopped to lunch. Well, 
the clergyman where he was lunching wasn't a very good sort ; 
he was terrible proud of his learning, but I believe he wasn't 
much. His clerk told me all the best bits of his sermon was 
poached ; and as for visiting the sick, he was so frightened at 
catching their complaints that he used, when they had fevers, 
to have a ladder put outside and read his good books to 'em 
through the window. Old Mr. Butler, let him be what he would, 
was not afraid of anything, and, what's more, he hated a coward. 
As he was at luncheon the soft clergyman says to Mr. Butler, ' I 
want a dog to follow the carriage : can you give me a young 
greyhound, Mr. Butler ? ' Well, old Billy Butler knew that the 
parson's brother was a coursing man down in Wiltshire, and in 
those days all the best greyhound blood was scarcer than it is 
now. So he says, ' Yes, I'll give you one with only one fault,' 
and got up to go ; for he said afterwards he was afraid that his 
brother parson would want something else next. Some time after 
the parson's brother wrote to Billy to ask what the one fault of 
the greyhound was, as his brother had kindly made him over to 
him. So Billy sat down and wrote to hirn to say he was a 
terrible good dog, only he wasn't hardly fast enough. That dog." 
said Bertie, " has left a lot of his sort about here, and distemper 
nor nothing won't shorten the breed." 

He told me this story as we walked to the wood, about 100 
acres, perhaps half of it cut and hardly showing any growth since 
that operation ; the fern hiding the large ' mocks," or stools, 
which had been pollarded close to the ground at intervals for 
years. Here and there were oaks, each of which might perhaps 
have cut a couple of gate-posts, if felled ; and at the top of the 
wood, which was a slope, there was a belt of dark large firs. 

These firs were now continued all round the wood as a roost- 
ing-place for pheasants, but except at the top of the covert they 
were as yet small and useless for birds. There were three fox- 
earths in this covert which had existed for years and years, and 
in two of them the vixens had brought out their cubs, whilst, as 
though to give a flat denial to all cavillers about foxes living 
with pheasants, we had killed more pheasants in this covert this 
year than in any equal proportion of land where there were no 
foxes, by about one-third. 

" Don't tell me," said old Bertie as he stood over one of them. 



ON BEATING FOE GAME. 273 

" about foxes doing harm ; see the good they does. Look at 
what I've taken out of a fox's larder. Eats' legs, hind legs of 
rabbits, and certainly some hares (but a hare puzzles a fox dread- 
ful), and some ducks' wings I allow. But moles, mice, rats, 
and all vermint, that's the fox's dinner. It isn't long ago. I 
helped take in a faggot-rick for a farmer, and when he see the 
hind legs of the rabbits in the sort of parlour inside the rick 
bed, he says, ' Well, I think a fox does more good than harm ; ' 
and so do I." 

All this time we were steadily beating one square in line. We 
had it all netted, and the mongrels and lurchers were in full 
chase after the rabbits, very often tumbling head over heels, or 
half stunning themselves by running against the roots and 
stumps, whilst the shouting, and screaming, and excitement were 
something wonderful. 

Bertie and my keeper both had guns, and I was the only one 
who did not take one. I wanted to look to a young retriever 
which had begun admirably, and to have my hands at liberty, as 
I did not trust him without a line trailing on the ground. It was 
well I did not, for once or twice he lost his self-control, and when 
he saw half a dozen dogs fighting over a rabbit, he tried in- 
effectually to dash in. Each time I caught him up sharp in the 
check collar, and once I threw him on his back ; and as he was 
flogged back to me by my boy, and the last time Bertie gave it 
to him handsomely, towards the end of the day I was able to 
trust him with not more than half a dozen yards of line. 

This was one of the few woods I have ever seen clear of ver- 
min I mean running vermin. Of course hawks hunt like 
spaniels, and there is nothing for it but post traps ; except 
through the covert I could not detect the presence of a stoat or 
weasel. I carefully examined the gates and hedgeruns, and saw 
no trace of them. I thought we must have got the last, and it 
struck me that possibly these gentry may give the fox a bad 
name, and the absence of their fangs might be one reason for the 
good sport the wood had afforded. 

When we came to the last beat, where the wood was oldest, 
there was some hitch in the keeper's arrangements that turned 
back the whole gang probably a corner left unbeaten ; at any 
rate, I went on alone and waited, rather impatiently, for some 
token they were coming. All at once I saw a roebuck's head, so 
exactly matching the grey lichens of the oak by which he lay, 
that I could hardly believe I was not deceived. As soon as I 

T 



274 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

touched my whistle he rose slowly and stretched himself, as un- 
concernedly as though he were a deer-hound, and trotting into the 
thick, cleared the fence and trotted across the open, turning his 
head from side to side like a young hunter that has thrown his 
rider. 

By this time the rest came up, and we finished our rabbit 
shooting in style, for they had drawn to this end and we had 
scarcely time to load. Just as we were finishing I met with a 
nasty accident. I was jumping a narrow ditch, without observing 
an elm branch which was overhead, and the tree almost knocked 
me backwards. I felt a little stunned, and Bertie said I turned 
as white as his new smock (smock-frock). 

" It puts me in mind," he said, as soon as he saw my head was 
too hard to be hurt by anything made of wood, " of a man whose 
wife had a trance, and was screwed up, and they was bringing 
her down to be buried. Well, they knocked the coffin against 
the bedpost and woke her up, and she lived and had dree (three) 
more children. Then she really did die, and the man was 
terrible cut up about it ; but when they went to fetch her down, 
up he jumps, and says, ' Let me come don't you go knocking 
the coffin against the bedpost again ! ' ' 

"Ay," said Frank, who all day had scarcely spoken a word 
because his chesnut was off his feed, " I saw a fellow shot along 
with us in Gloucestershire, and he picked four shots out of his 
forehead and put 'em in his waistcoat pocket. Then he washed 
his face and stopped the blood, and when he got to the end of 
the wood, and they were at luncheon, some one said, ' What, 
have you scratched your forehead ? ' ' No,' he said, pointing to 
one of the party the squire it was and handing him the shots, 
'you put these into my forehead.' 'Lord,' said the squire, 
putting them carefully in his shot pouch, and with no other 
apology, ' What a hard head you must have ! ' ' 

" Now, then, let us go home, I'm tired of it." (Public) " And 
so say all of us." 



LAND VALUERS AND STEWABDS. 275 



PAPER XXX. 

LAND VALUERS AXD STEWARDS. 

A CLASSICAL education is not intended to prepare us for the 
management of an estate ; and if a young gentleman declares 
himself as preferring agriculture to -*Eschylus, he is frequently 
suspected of seeking an apology for doing nothing. In other 
words, it is possible to be "crammed " with classics and mathe- 
matics to the exclusion of common sense, and that knowledge of 
the world which comprehends business habits and the control of 
property. 

Many a man withdraws from a liberal profession to take the 
position of a country gentleman, or succeeds to an estate, possess- 
ing no more knowledge of land, or the duties of landlord and 
tenant, then the retired manufacturer who, late in life, has 
invested his capital in acres. 

Large properties are generally committed to a steward, paid by 
a fixed salary, which is regulated to a great extent by the impor- 
tance of the possessions he has under his charge, or the liberality 
and social rank of his employer. This steward has, in all pro- 
bability, his house and walled garden, his pair of phaeton horses, 
and a hack, which at the proper season is caparisoned as a charger 
for the yeomanry, and pays no duty. He has some opportunities 
of increasing his income, and, unless a man of weak principles 
and avarice well disguised, he levies no black mail upon farm 
tenants, nor does he exhibit what our American cousins call 
" smartness" in his dealings. By the tacit consent of the Squire, 
he is often permitted to do little bits of quiet business for the 
neighbouring gentry, such as simply require the exercise of a 
fanner's experience, a common everyday acquaintance with 
Gunter's chain and the surveyor's cross staff ; whilst towards his 
proper chief, who, in racing phraseology, has " the first claim on 
his services," he acts as a sort of nautical fender or a railway 
buffer, protecting the lord of the manor from the jolts of dis- 
satisfied tenants ; or he may be said to resemble that imaginary 



276 THB IDSTONE PAPEB8. 

" Co." whom the sinking merchant puts forward to gain time in 
his trade embarrassments, and thus postpone the evil day. A 
steward is a necessary though a rather expensive luxury. He 
receives the rents, examines the quarterly bills, gives plans for 
drains, marks the timber, parades himself hi broadcloth before 
the working bailiff, and, in association with the family lawyer, 
makes a good thing of the estate, whilst, with the honesty of an 
Bast Indian "khansaman," he warns off a swarm of minor 
harpies from the ancestral hearth. 

Next in honour and dignity to the steward comes the working 
bailiff we have just named. His equipage, a rough pony ; his 
full dress, velveteen ; and for very best, those glazed leggings 
which flash back the light. A man this with no pretension to 
grammar, no affectation of aspirates, nor inclination for gloves 
the man of a pound a week, a cottage, and no vote ; carrying out 
the steward's directions, if there is a steward, and doing " by 
rule of thumb " what the amateur imitates by the help of "Bees' 
Farmer's AccountlJook " and " The Agriculturalist's Calculator." 

It cannot be denied that there are times when the experience 
of a man acquainted with the value of land and the routine of 
agriculture is required in the purchase of an estate, for in- 
stance, or when a change of occupation is contemplated, and for 
" valuing tenants in or out." But before employing any person 
calling himself a land valuer or surveyor, it would be well to 
reflect upon the following legal opinion which we obtained a 
short time ago : " Nothing has ever been done which can fix the 
charges of a land valuer or surveyor ; and, having regard to the 
work done, they are more extortionate than those of any other 
class of professionals." 

A case was reported in The Times a short time ago, where a 
charge of 95Z. was made by a surveyor, and, as far as we can 
gather from that paragraph, the services rendered were simple 
in the extreme. The defendant paid 64. into court, but the jury 
thought the plaintiff entitled to all he sought to recover, and 
found a verdict accordingly. 

We have failed to ascertain the precise merits of the case, but 
we quote it as one instance corroborating our opinion, that the 
indefinite and extortionate amount of remuneration claimed by 
surveyors needs legislation, and baffles the proverbial penetration 
of a jury. 

We bring forward without reluctance another instance in which 
a steward (a gentleman's steward), doing a little valuing upon his 



LAND VALUERS AND STEWABDS. 277 

own account, showed a thorough appreciation of his own worth 
as a professional man, charging ten guineas for going over a farm 
of considerably less than ninety-three acres, and falling short of 
200/. a year in value, the amount of work being easily performed 
in four hours, and within the power of any practical farmer to 
accomplish it. It is true that such a fraction of business can 
scarcely be worth the notice of a " professional" land surveyor, 
and we should scarcely quote it but as an example within the 
contemplation and easily to be understood by lower intelligences. 

We present another picture by the same artist, wet from the 
easel. 

For valuing an estate of 300 acres (more or less), of the annual 
value of 500/. per annum, and for nominally letting the farm, he 
made a charge of fifty pounds or more, charging a guinea for a 
letter, the same sum for giving a casual inquirer at his "office" a 
few particulars of the farm to let, and in another case " two 
guineas for such an appointment, and writing his employer that 
such an interview had taken place." Finishing and colouring a 
tracing of the farm is an important item, for it seems to have 
been repeated most wet evenings, and there is a separate charge 
for examining it after it was finished, possibly through a roll of 
paper, or as a magpie is popularly supposed to criticise a marrow- 
bone ! We pass over the expensive interviews, the costly 
schedules, the vexatious charges, and we caution the public that 
unless they make a bargain with this class they have no remedy, 
and they must expect no consideration. Remonstrance in the 
case just alluded to was followed by the threat of a writ, and, 
under the wholesome fear of legal expenses, the whole sum was 
paid. Worst of all, the work was done but indifferently well ! 

Until the fees of these men are settled by law, it will be true 
economy to employ only such as are most eminent in their pro- 
fession, and to eschew country practitioners, who have emerged 
from "the office" full-fledged land valuers without any exami- 
nation, and who have risen probably by talent, but also possibly 
by luck, or something worse. 

For the general business of a moderate estate it is possible 
to enlist into our service a practical educated farmer, plenty of 
whom may be found in every rural district ; men of unimpeach- 
able honour, of strict integrity, and cultivated intellect. Such 
a man as can use the spirit-level and theodolite, whose soul 
does not scorn an agreement as to terms, who can descend to 
the practical routine of common life, and tell the value per acre 



278 THE IDSTONE PAPERS. 

of land, crop, or labour, the cubic yards of digging (in drains), 
the contents of oblong stocks, and, without that wisdom of Solomon 
which could "speak of trees from the cedar tree which is in 
Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall," 
can grasp the mystery of planting, and say how many draining- 
tiles make a yard. Such an intelligence may be discovered, we 
repeat, in the land of clay, shingle, flint, chalk, sand, or marl, 
and we can state for the consolation of those who, seeking to 
ascertain what their property is worth, desire the opinion of men 
who are something far superior to good guessers, that a very valu- 
able and reliable opinion can be obtained from men competent to 
fulfil their task at five, three, or even two pounds a day ! 



SNIPE-SHOOTING. 279 



PAPER XXXI. 

SNIPE-SHOOTING. 

When I drew the blind of my bedroom bay window the whole 
landscape was covered with a thick white mantle. The sun was 
shining brightly, but had as yet not power to melt the snow on 
the roof : it was freezing undeniably hard. I was prepared for 
such a scene from the glimpse I got of the outside world the 
previous night, when by the moonlight I could only detect a 
greyish line marking the boundary of my lawn a hedge of five 
or six feet in height. 

We adjourned after breakfast to the billiard-room and held a 
council of war, and, after a considerable amount of tobacco and 
reflection, it was determined to have a cut at the snipes in some 
lowland about five miles away. We therefore desired the groom 
to soft-soap the horses' feet and to have out the waggonette at 
once, or rather what we called the German waggon, for the 
waggonette of these later years was unknown. This vehicle, 
which is the most useful conveyance I ever possessed, much 
resembles a "body break," and carries six or more inside. It did 
not take long to put on the harness, and we soon heard the 
muffled sound of wheels at the front door. Into the dog-basket 
which is slung under the body of the carriage we put a capital 
snipe-dog I had bought of Bill George, chaining her short ; and 
my retriever could jump in it or out of it as we bowled along. 

As we hardly knew the boundaries, we picked up my odd man 
the night-watcher, rat-catcher, earth-stopper, and loader all in 
one and began to climb the steep hill that led us to the main 
turnpike road. We had to pass within half a mile of the lake, 
and could see the teal whirling about over the fir trees, and the 
ducks, singly and sometimes three or four together, flying from 
one part of the water to another. Our old mentor, who knew the 
" short cuts," suggested he should take a look at the water as we 
drove on, adding, he could meet us further on without causing us 
any material delay. We at once fell in with this idea of his, and 



280 THE ED8TONE PAPERS. 

he made for an opening into the plantation and disappeared. We 
had another hill to climb over a steep one and through a rude 
cutting on the crest of it we could see the wide heath stretching 
miles away, beyond the " back water" and the line of hills like a 
sheet of silver. 

As we dropped down the steep incline cautiously, and got into 
the level ground again, we caught sight of a couple of roebuck 
which were lying under a hayrick to our right, and which, when 
they saw us, gave a leisurely stretch and trotted to the embank- 
ment of the turnpike road. This they cleared with an ease and 
indifference that appeared marvellous to me, considering the state 
of the ground, and making for the fir plantation to our right, 
they were soon in the shelter of the covert. 

We had scarcely reached the old bridge at the bottom before 
we saw our emissary coming up the valley, making us signs of 
grotesque exultation at the success of his visit to the water. As 
he kicked the snow from his feet against the parapet of the bridge, 
and gradually recovered his breath, he informed us that there 
was only about twenty feet square of "bright water" that is, 
water unfrozen and that the rest was skimmed over, some of it 
an inch thick. 

"There are lots of teal all on the ice," he said, "and some 
widgeon, and about ten score of ducks, but they are terrible wild, 
and they keep whistling over your head every minute," he added. 
"Hadn't you better go and have a shot at 'em ? " 

As the frost seemed very likely to hold, we determined to go 
on to the snipe ground, however, where we were told it was not 
uncommon to find a good sprinkling of wild fowl also. Accord- 
ingly, we embarked the old loader again, and continued our 
journey through the snow. We found it was simply a heavy 
pull for the team, but that they did not slip at all. We had 
come the first two miles steadily, and though the horses did 
sweat and steam a little, they went well up to their bits, and 
were full of going. 

We reached the farmhouse at last, which stands on the margin 
of the heathland, or rather between that heath and the swampy 
snipe-ground. 

That damp, low-lying tract of land about six hundred acres, 
is one continued flat, and is kept in its present state, and pre- 
vented becoming an entire waste, by an earthwork running its 
entire length, called a " sea wall," and a number of dykes partially 
choked with rushes. Beyond the " sea wall" the back water is 



SNIPE-SHOOTING. 281 

deep enough for a small steamer to run, and beyond the hills is 
the open sea. 

The plain I have described as reclaimed from the ocean is 
thickly overgrown with rushes, and in many parts with reed, but 
in its whole length and breadth there is scarcely a place that will 
not bear a man's weight, and there is not one dangerous place 
within the boundary. The whole is mapped out by these wide 
ditches into fields, perhaps twelve or fourteen acres in extent, and 
one the last is full of little pools and ponds, which my expe- 
rience (acquired since the day I write of by many an hour's good 
sport) tells me generally hold teal or duck, or perhaps some rare 
and valuable wader. 

The little auk, the glossy ibis, the dusky shoveller, the black 
duck, the scaup duck, the smew, all have been shot near this 
locality, some by me and some by my neighbours, who hold a 
continuation of this shooting divided from me by a wide tidal 
river. The rushes form good harbour for partridges in September, 
and pheasants frequently spring from under the grass hassocks 
all the year round ; in fact, the shooting is varied and wild, and 
I think I have never been here without making a bag. 

As we intended to shoot down wind at snipe it seemed useless 
to take a dog, but we had more than we could do without 
him, and I considered that, if he really was a snipe-dog, he would 
enable us to kill more than if he were not with us. For my own 
part I do not care to work without a dog at any sort of shooting. 
The sport, to my mind, is in witnessing the dog's intelligence*. 
Knocking down the game is simply the dog's reward, everything 
else is "pot-hunting." If it is sport I don't see it. A steady 
point is a useful thing when you have a thin, frosty air. When 
the bird flies away with a loud scream and a twist, like the flash 
of a gun, it is just as well to know he is going to get up, and it 
gives the gun a chance ; which perhaps is not required so much 
when you can see the ash colour of his wing, and almost count the 
feathers in his tail spread open like a white-tipped doll's fan. 

In this case it proved a success, and the dog was almost indis- 
pensable. She was a lemon-and-white setter, and as well made 
as any I ever had before or expect to have again. She had a 
long, lean head, and just the right amount of lip. Her freckled 
legs were as good as a foxhound s I can't say more than that ; 
and though her hips looked rather ragged, I found, a few months 
after, that Bill George told the truth when he said she had been 
" worked to a stump and starved to death." I never saw her 



282 THE ID8TONE PAPERS. 

give up galloping, and I never knew her tired. Her deep ribs 
and loins, her good, firm wearing feet, and her quality, all 
helped to make her the best I ever saw, and the staunchest I 
ever possessed. She never shivered in wet and cold, nor showed 
anything like slackness in her work in the dry weather in a hot 
September day. "When I took her, however, to the snipe ground 
on that snowy day she and I were strangers. 

The only question I asked when I inquired for a snipe-dog 
was, "Does she know her work ?" and receiving an answer in the 
affirmative, I paid the money and received a new chain and 
collar in the bargain. A few days after I loosed her from her 
kennel with my own hands, and took her for a walk with a brace 
of black-tan setters for company, and, provided the dog comes 
from a distance, I have generally found this a sufficient introduc- 
tion between the dog and his master. I knew she turned to 
whistle and hand ; that she dropped to hand, wing, and shot ; 
that she did not chase or blink her birds ; and this was all I 
knew, except that her style of hunting was perfect head up and 
tail going, and plenty of speed ; whilst the way she brought up 
when she caught the scent, stood as stiff as a biscuit, perfectly 
motionless (no shaking of the stern), and turned her eye towards 
me, showed she was a thorough good one, as the sequel 
proved. 

As we started down wind I confess I was unprepared to see 
her gallop gently and sink the wind for each beat or parallel, 
quartering back to us, and suddenly pointing in a thick piece 
of rushes, putting the birds between us and her, and gradually 
sinking on her haunches. I confess it was my firm opinion that 
she was on a pheasant ; and I was agreeably surprised to find, as 
we came up to her, that a snipe got up about six feet from her, 
and went right over her head. The bird turned and jerked twice 
when he had passed the bitch, and fell dead about thirty yards 
beyond her to my gun. About thirty yards on she ran into 
some partridges, but she dropped the moment they rose, and 
going down wind she could not help it. A north wind and a 
driving sleet came on, but the scent continued good, and she kept 
going on down wind as before, and working back to us, pointing 
every snipe and missing but one "jack" during the time we 
were beating this portion of our ground. 

We then came to some watery meadow or marsh, but the 
water, being brackish, had not frozen, and though she continued 
her slow gallop it was so light and airy that she scarcely made 



SNIPE-SHOOTING. 283 

any splash at all. However, it was too wet for tlie birds to lie 
there, and we took a turn up the rushy dyke. She beat this 
she had the wind of it straight up, and stood when half way up 
its entire length. Here we got a long shot at a duck and 
mallard, and killed the latter, and had but just time to load 
when another duck got up close to her and was dropped at 
once. 

By this time we had come to some bog myrtle and a brook 
with a plank bridge close to the cottage of the dairyman, and here 
we had good sport. We got five couple of snipes in about five 
acres of ground, and, but for the ice cracking under our feet for 
the water had dried away and left it like brittle sheets of glass 
we should have got -many more. Further on the water was out 
again and unfrozen, and we stepped from one dry hassock to 
another, but this ground would not do ; the birds got up in wisps 
and were evidently sitting on the hassocks watching every move- 
ment of our party. We therefore jumped the dyke at the best 
place, according to our guide's experience, but old Bertie jumped 
short and got wet, to use his own expression, " as far as he could 
get wet until the luncheon came." It was to meet us here but 
had not arrived, and I sent the old man to the farm to got a glass 
of brandy and do the best he could, for his clothes began to freeze 
upon him directly he was extracted from the water. 

For ourselves, we went on and found the brook nearly frozen 
up. I never saw so many]snipe in one field before ; they were flying 
about in all directions, and pitching on the ice all round us. We 
could shoot them on the snow or as they flew by us. and instead 
of going right away, they flew round our heads and pitched again. 
There was no occasion to move far away, for as fast as we could 
load they came by us, and the dog was setting them and dropping 
all the time. Best of all they were in good condition ! 

Our luncheon reached us here, and we got over it as soon as 
we could, and lit our pipes and began again, but they now 
moved off towards the next piece, and we moved after them. 
Here the land was not so wet, and the furze grew moderately 
well. A good skein of teal rose from a small pond in the middle 
of the ground, and we got three of then), a fourth pitching on his 
head in the river, and breaking the thin ice in his fall. As my 
retriever was worth more than a dead teal, I did not try to recover 
him, for I once all but lost a retriever in a mere duckpond from 
the same cause. We foolishly sent him after a duck ; as he 
caught it the ice broke under him, and I had my choice either to 



284 THE IDSTONE PAPEES. 

break the ice before me, and wade for him, or let him drown. 
As his breaking had cost me many hours' hard work, I fetched 
him out, although I had to wade to my shoulders in the water, 
but he was saved, and I am none the worse. 

We got a " ring-necked pheasant " in the same piece of furze, 
and fine dog fox broke from the end of it, Here old Bertie 
pointed out the seal of an otter, and we could track him to the 
bank and in the direction of the river, but soon after he must have 
got upon the ice, and we could make no more of him. 

It was now time to think about returning, and we got our 
green-coated companion to show us the best way back. " Through 
the copse and so back across a piece of heather, and it is not quite 
a mile," said the cheery old man, who declared he was quite dry 
and warm an assertion I felt to be untrue and we turned into 
a good small covert to make our way to the old farm. 

We got a hare and a few rabbits on the heath, and as we 
passed through a sort of wide crevice in a sudden declivity which 
old Bertie called a " droke," I felt pretty sure I flushed a wood- 
cock, though I could not see him perfectly. However, the 
assertion of our old guide that it was a brown owl was received 
with acclamation by my friends, and I had to endure some joking 
on the subject. When their mirth was at the highest pitch, 
however, a woodcock was flushed by the farmer, who was coming 
to meet us on his pony, and flying straight for my friend, fell to 
his gun, and it was generously conceded that it was the bird I 
had flushed in the " droke." 

I did not keep an account of the snipes we got that day, but I 
think it was about twenty-one couple I know it was over 
twenty ; and what is better still, we had about a fortnight of 
this work. At one time we had seventy couple in the house ; 
and I believe a farmer, a neighbour of mine, who has a famous 
eye of anyone I know for shooting ducks by his river side at 
night, and who is seldom equalled by anyone who shoots with 
him by day, "realised" nearly as many with his own gun. 
He is a Hercules in strength, and I think I am right in saying 
he uses a 10-gauge Westley Richards, and puts in 5 drachms of 
powder. But heavy guns and large charges are a mistake. 

I once used just such a pair of guns myself, but I found it all 
wrong. First there is a grave increase in the powder bill at 
the end of the year ; then, although you may kill at longer 
distances, you are a longer time getting on the bird than your 
companion ; and, lastly, there is the additional weight ; for such 



SNIPE- SHOOTING. 285 

a gun generally weighs at least 91b. The difference between 
71b. and 91b. is not perceptible after the first half-hour, but it 
must tell in a long day, and, tiring the muscles of the arm, 
deteriorate from the nicety of the aim. 

The gunmakers have fixed on the best weight, in my opinion, 
for average sized men ; and no guage is so reliable, according to 
my experience, as the number twelve. The proper regulation of 
the charge rests with the man who uses the gun. and no rules 
can be laid down for the quantity of powder or shot, but of the 
latter nineteen out of twenty certainly use too much. 



Printed by HORACE Cox. 346, Strtud. 



ADVERTISEMENTS 



J. C. CORDING, 

ORIGINAL 

WATERPROOF MANUFACTURER. 

THE ONLY ONE TO BE RELIED ON. 



(JOBBING'S VENTILATED COATS. See Field, July 17 and 31. 

CORDING'S GUINEA STORM COATS. 

CORDING'S GUINEA FISHING COATS. 

CORDING'S GUINEA TWEED WATERPROOF COATS. 

CORDING'S GUINEA FISHING BROGUES. 

COBDING'S GUINEA FISHING STOCKINGS. 

COBDING'S TOURISTS' OUTFITS COMPLETE. 

CORDING'S PRINCE OF WALES HUNTING COAT, 

with Knee Caps and Valise complete. 

CORDING'S LADIES' WATERPROOF CLOAKS in variety. 
CORDING'S LADIES' YACHTING PETTICOATS. 

ALL GENUINE SPORTSMEN PATRONISE 

CORDING'S celebrated FISHING BOOTS and STOCKINGS. 

See Sporting Life, Jan. 27; Land and Water, March 24; Standard, 

July 12 ; Court Circular, Sept. 29. 
CORDING'S IDSTONE BOOTS. Registered, see Field, October 19 

and November 2. 

CORDING'S BELTS FOR SAVING LIFE AT SEA. 10s.6rf.oach. 
CORDING S COMPRESSIBLE BATHS FOR TRAVELLING. 
CORDING'S AIR AND WATER BEDS. 
CORDING'S AIR-CUSHIONS AND PILLOWS. 
CORDING'S WATERPROOF SHEETING. 
CORDING'S GROUND SHEETS. 

CORDING'S GIG, BOX, and DOG-CART APRONS. Warranted 
not to Crack. 



J. C. CORDING, 

231, 8TRA.ND, TKMl'1-.E: I3.A.R. 



ADVERTISEMENTS. 



WILLIAM POWELL AND SON, 

GUN AND RIFLE MANUFACTURERS, 

13, CAKR'S-LANE, BIRMINGHAM. 




Inventors and Patentees of 

Powell's Safety Snap-action Central-Fire 

Breech-Loader , 

Which for simplicity, quickness, and solidity of construction, stands un- 
equalled. This action was selected at the Field trials, May, 1866, and has 
since proved itself to stand well hard wear. Their 

PATENT SELF-ACTING STRIKERS, WITHOUT SPRINGS, 

render an accident impossible. 



The following letter from a well-known Sportsman is one of the numerous 
Testimonials Messrs. P. and SON have received : 

" Nov. 8th, 1869. 
"Messrs. POWELL & SON, 

" Gentlemen, 

" I inclose you a letter from a party of Gentlemen who have been using 
your guns. 

" I can quite certify what they say as to their excellence. 
" I have shot with one of your Central-Fires for two seasons. It has 
never required anything but a drop of oil occasionally, which all Breech- 
Loaders ought to have more frequently than they do, and it is quite as firm 
as when it left your hands. I never shot better with any Breech-Loader, 
I may say, with any gun. The range, penetration, and pattern are ex- 
cellent. " Yours, &c., 

" IDSTONE." 



Price Lists and Drawings forwarded on application to the Manufactory, 

13, C air's Lane, Birmingham. 



ADVERTISEMENTS. 



WALKLEY AND CO.'S 
REVERSIBLE WATERPROOF COATS 

Are made of the Finest Fabrics ; will fold in a small case for the pocket, and 

weigh only a few ounces. 
COLOURS DRAB OR BLACK. 



LAJDIES' CLOCKS, 

With Hoods, of the same Light Materials, also folding in pocket case. 
Light Waterproof Knee Wrappers, Carriage Aprons, and Rugs. 

FISHING AND DRIVING COATS, 

Coachmen's Driving Capes with Sleeves, Fishing Stockings 
and Trousers, and 

All kinds of Indiarubber Goods of best Manufacture, 
WARRANTED TO STAND THE GREATEST TROPICAL HEAT. 



THE RANELAGH, 

For promoting the Health, Beauty, and Muscular Development of the Human Body. 

Produces, by a few mi- 
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PRICES: 



No. 1, for Ladies or Children 10 8 

No. 2, for Gentlemen 14 6 

No. 3, very strong 18 6 

Or with metal work bronzed, 
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WALKLEY A1STD Co., 

WATERPROOFERS & INDIARUBBER MANUFACTURERS. 

5, STRAND (opposite Charing Cross Post Office), 

LONDON. 

[1J 



ADVERTISEMENTS. 



JOYCE'S SPORTING AMMUNITION. 

The attention of Sportsmen is invited to the 

following well-known Ammunition now in 

general use throughout the Kingdom and the 

Colonies. 

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SOLD BY ALL GUNMAKERS AND DEALERS IN GUNPOWDER. 




FREDERICK JOYCE & Co., 

PATENTEES AND MANUFACTUBERS, 
57, UPPER THAMES STREET, LONDON. 

Contractors to Her Majesty's War Department. 

THE PERITHKON, 

By Hoyal Letters Patent, 

TS the original invention for obviat- 
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the front wheel of 
a Waggonette or 
Stanhope Phaeton, 
by allowing the 
lady to pass from 
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Drawings and 
testimonials may 
be had of the 

PATENTEE AND SOLE MANUFACTURER, 

S. SMITH, IIALESWORTH 

BEWAEE OF IMITATIONS. 




ADVERTISEMENTS. 



J. <fc W. TOLLEY, 

BREECH-LOADING GUNS AND RIFLES, 

PIONEER GUN WORKS, BIRMINGHAM. 



S>a 



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PRICES OF GUNS, RIFLES, &c. 

SMOOTH HOREH. RIFLES. 



Pin Fire Damaacu* Barrel* 10 lo 

Knpcrior <ioality ditto 14 IS 

I. ,. _...._.__ 81 

(Central Flro r>am<-u lUrrcU IS IS 

Superior finality, ditto. .._ __ 17 17 

Bent quality mann i'. o 

Hniooth Bore* offcctiro with ball to 

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ADVERTISEMENTS. 



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ADVEBTISEMENTS. 




Musgrave and Company, Limited. 



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and other subjects, is given weekly in 




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The Supplement (18 to 2O pp.) of the Paper is devoted 
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" Like all grand conceptions," says the GLOBE, " the 
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WORKS PUBLISHED BY HORACE COX, 

346, STRAND, W.C. 

THE DOGS of the BRITISH ISLANDS, their History and 

Characteristics, with the Opinions of various Breeders of note. Edited by " STONE- 
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PARTS IIL and IV. HOUNDS and TOY DOGS, containing Greyhound (with Illus- 
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PART V.-On the MANAGEMENT of LARGE and PET DOGS, and TREATMENT 
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PAST VL JUDGING at DOG SHOWS and FIELD TRIALS. 

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SHIFTS and EXPEDIENTS of CAMP LIFE, TRAVEL, 

and EXPLORATION. By W. B. LORD, Royal Artillery, and T. BAIXES, 
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"GAZETTE DES DAMES " 

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"MUSIC AND MUSICIANS." 
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Published every Saturday, price Sixpence. 







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IN interesting Sporting subjects are 
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ALL the principal Hatches of the week 
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" HUNTING." 

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I with the various Packs of Hounds, 
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"HUNTING APPOINTMENTS." 

AN Alphabetical List of the Appoint- 
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"THE VETERINARIAN" 
f~\ IVES full and pnictinil Instruction for 
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"CRICKET." 

'PLT.L and accurate Report* of all 



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REPORTS of all Meetings are given 
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/ 'ONTAINS graphic and trustworthy 
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"THE LIBRARY TABLE" 

CONTAINS Reviews of Books on Sports 
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"FOREIGN FIELD SPORTS." 

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"STEEPLECUASINO." 
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VENTILATED HUNTING OR RIDING COAT, 

Combining Coat and Leggings in One Garment. 

Vide The Field, Oct. 6, 1866 ; Lancet, Nov. 5, 1870. 

" The ventilation is secured by two openings extending entirely across 
the back, overlapped by the material, after the manner of Louvre boards, 
so as to permit a current of air to be constantly passing through them. A 
similar contrivance, or air-valve, is found at each arm-pit. The piece on 
either side which is intended to cover the thigh and knee is, when not 
required, doubled up flat against the inside of the coat, and kept there by 
small straps, forming, as it were, the wall of an inside pocket." 

VENTILATED FISHING TROUSERS, FISHING 
STOCKINGS, BROGUES, &c. 

THE "FREKE" FISHING BAG, 

Vide The Field, July 9, 1870. 

GUN COVERS, CARTRIDGE CASES, DRIVING 
APRONS, 

AND EVERT DESCRIPTION OF WATERPROOF. 



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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 

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